Friendly fire killed cop in shootout
The veteran police officer shot and killed while rushing to confront a mass shooter in Thousand Oaks, California, last month was fatally struck by friendly fire rather than bullets fired by the gunman, authorities said Friday.
The grim revelation, made public exactly a month after the Nov. 7 massacre at the Borderline Bar and Grill, adds yet another tragic element to what witnesses and authorities alike have described as a chaotic, terrifying scene at the country-music venue.
When the gunfire ended, a dozen people had been fatally wounded — including Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, 54 — and the gunman killed himself with a single shot to his head. Police have identified the attacker as 28-year-old Ian David Long, who has a history of angry behavior, and said they are still investigating what could have motivated the rampage.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said after Long shot bar patrons and employees, he waited for law enforcement to respond and then “almost immediately” began shooting at them. “Sgt. Helus was struck five times by gunfire from the suspect,” Ayub said. “Today, I’m deeply saddened to inform you that Sgt. Helus was also struck by a sixth bullet, which we now know ... was fired from the CHP officer’s rifle.”
That sixth bullet was fatal, Ayub said. The gunman’s bullets hit Helus and “caused serious injuries but potentially survivable injuries,” the Ventura County chief medical examiner, said at the same news briefing. But the highway patrol officer’s bullet hit Helus’s chest and his heart.