Deputy, try­ing to save oth­ers, ‘died a hero,’ sher­iff says

The Capital - - NEWS - By Alex Hor­ton

Gun­fire still crack­led at the Border­line Bar and Grill when Ven­tura County Sher­iff’s Deputy Ron Helus ar­rived.

Emer­gency calls flooded 911 af­ter a gun­man en­tered the Thou­sand Oaks, Calif., bar on Wed­nes­day night, and he me­thod­i­cally killed peo­ple on a dance floor scuffed by cow­boy boots at a col­lege coun­try night, wit­nesses later said.

Within min­utes, Sgt. Helus re­sponded to the calls along with a high­way pa­trol­man. They were prompted by their train­ing that changed af­ter the 1999 Columbine High School mas­sacre: Don’t wait. Con­front the shooter.

The of­fi­cers gained en­try. A burst of gun­fire hit Helus mul­ti­ple times. The pa­trol­man pulled Helus “out of the line of gun­fire,” Ven­tura County Sher­iff Ge­off Dean told re­porters early Thurs­day, and helped se­cure the scene for more of­fi­cers to ar­rive.

Dean an­nounced the deaths of 11 peo­ple in the news con­fer­ence.

His voice cracked. Helus, he said, was the 12th. He died at a hos­pi­tal — a year be­fore he was set to re­tire with 30 years of ser­vice.

“He was to­tally com­mit­ted, he gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero,” Dean said. “He went in to save lives — to save other peo­ple.”

Helus was a res­i­dent of nearby Moor­park and is sur­vived by a wife and son, Dean said. Helus was an avid out­doors­man who tra­versed the serene wa­ters of the San Joaquin River. On some back­coun­try trips, he would see more bald ea­gles and deer than peo­ple, he said on Face­book.

“I’ve prob­a­bly had 200 bear and 3 moun­tain lion en­coun­ters,” Helus told a Face­book friend who jok­ingly asked if he were part an­i­mal.

Deputies closed down roads for a morn­ing pro­ces­sion as they es­corted Helus’ body from a hos­pi­tal to the county med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice.

“It’s so tragic los­ing Ron,” Dean said. “We go to the gym to­gether, work out to­gether. It’s hor­rific and ter­ri­ble and it sad­dens our hearts.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump praised the “great brav­ery shown by po­lice” on Twit­ter, adding: “God bless all of the vic­tims and fam­i­lies of the vic­tims.”

SHER­IFF’S DEPART­MENT

Sgt. Ron Helus died af­ter re­spond­ing to the shoot­ing.

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