Deputy died from friendly fire in gun­bat­tle at Cal­i­for­nia bar

Hartford Courant - - World & Nation -

THOU­SAND OAKS, Calif. — A sher­iff’s deputy who died in a mass shoot­ing at a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia bar was shot five times by a gun­man who mas­sa­cred 11 oth­ers, but the of­fi­cer was killed by friendly fire, author­i­ties said Fri­day.

Sgt. Ron Helus was fa­tally shot in the heart by a Cal­i­for­nia high­way pa­trol­man who had joined him in a fire­fight with the gun­man at the Bor­der­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks on Nov. 7, Ven­tura County Sher­iff Bill Ayub said.

“It was just a tragic de­tail that un­folded so rapidly, in my view it was un­avoid- able,” Ayub said. “They were am­bushed al­most im­me­di­ately.”

Ayub said the fa­tal shot did not di­min­ish the hero­ism shown by the of­fi­cers. The CHP of­fi­cer was not iden­ti­fied, but is a 9-year vet­eran of the force who is on leave.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors did not of­fer any more in­sight into what drove Ian David Long, 28, to storm the coun­try and western bar at an event for col­lege stu­dents. Long took his own life after the gun­bat­tle with the two of­fi­cers.

Long threw smoke grenades into the group of revel­ers, ob­struct­ing what they could see, be­fore he opened fire. Then he used a flash­light with a laser sight at­tached to his .45-cal­iber semi-au­to­matic pis­tol as he fired.

Pan­icked revel­ers smashed win­dows to flee, dove un­der ta­bles and piled on top of each other in an ef­fort to dodge the gun­fire.

The first two of­fi­cers to ar­rive at the scene, Helus and a Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cer, saw at least 100 peo­ple flee­ing the bar. Long had got­ten into a tac­ti­cal po­si­tion and fired on them when they en­tered.

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