Victims include officer, a big brother, and a student
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — One was a veteran police officer who didn’t hesitate to run toward danger. Another was a young man who eagerly awaited the birth of his first sister and aimed to join the armed forces. Others were a newly minted college graduate who worked with kids with developmental disabilities and a student with plans to study law.
They were among a dozen people killed in a shooting at a country music bar in Southern California. Authorities believe the gunman, Ian David Long, ultimately killed himself.
The victims’ stories began to emerge Thursday as officials were still reaching out to their families. It was going to be a “very difficult day for many people,” said Andrew Fox, mayor of Thousand Oaks, where the attack happened Wednesday night.
RON HELUS: Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus was talking to his wife when calls started coming in about a shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill.
“Hey, I got to go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later,” he told her, according to Sheriff Geoff Dean.
It was the last time she would talk to her husband.
Helus took up fly fishing a few years ago and loved pursuing the hobby in the Sierra Nevada with his grown son, Sgt. Eric Buschow said.
“He was just a great guy, a gentle soul,” Buschow said. “Patient. Calm no matter what. When you call 911, he’s one of the guys you want showing up.”
Dean choked back tears talking about Helus and called him a hero.
“He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price,” he said.
CODY COFFMAN: Cody Coffman had just turned 22 and was about to fulfill his dream of serving his country by joining the Army, said his father, Jason Coffman, who wept as he told a group of reporters that his firstborn son was among the victims.
Cody adored his siblings — three brothers, ages 6 to 9 — and he couldn’t wait for the birth of a sister, due Nov. 29, said Jason Coffman.
“Cody was the big brother that my kids need,” he said. “He was so excited to have his first sister and now she’ll never know ... ”
He trailed off, sobbing, then said, “Oh, Cody, I love you, son.”
Jason Coffman said his son was passionate about baseball, serving as a youth umpire, and they went fishing together.
JUSTIN MEEK: Justin Meek graduated in May from California Lutheran University, where the