Friendly fire killed cop in shootout

Albuquerque Journal - - METRO & NM -

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.

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