Among the victims, Sgt. Ron Helus, ‘went in to save lives’
When a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, on Wednesday night, prompting patrons to flee in terror, Sgt. Ron Helus rushed in.
He would not make it out. Helus was killed in the shooting at the crowd- ed country music bar, becoming one of 12 people who lost their lives in the attack.
His colleagues in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said that the death toll might have been even higher if not for Helus.
“He went in to save lives, to save other people,” Sheriff Geoff Dean said Thursday, adding that Helus was set to retire this year. Helus had a conversation with his wife on the phone before entering the bar, the sheriff said.
“He was a true cop’s cop,” Sgt. Eric Buschow told CNN. Buschow said that during Helus’ 29 years on the force he worked in various departments within the agency, including narcotics and SWAT.
“He had a natural instinct going after crooks,” Buschow said. “He did it with enthusiasm and a great deal of intelligence.”
Helus loved the outdoors and enjoyed fishing with his son in the Sierra Nevada. On his LinkedIn page, he said that in addition to his policing job, he owned a firearms safety training business called Gun Control.
“I don’t think there is anything more heroic than what he did,” Buschow said. “He went in there to save lives.”
Among the others who died in the shooting:
Cody Coffman: Cody Coffman had just turned 22 and was planning to join the Army, said his father, Jason Coffman, who confirmed his son’s death in an interview with reporters that aired on CNN.
Justin Meek: Justin Meek had just graduated in May from California Lutheran University, where the campus chapel overflowed Thursday with people attending a service of mourning, according to Washington Post reports.
Meek, 23, had majored in criminal justice, school spokeswoman Karin Grennan said.
Alaina Housley: Alaina Housley was just 18, a promising student at Pepperdine University with plans to study law, her family told the Associated Press.
People cry as a motorcade escorts the body of Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Ron Helus from the Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif.