Deputy died from friendly fire in Calif. bar gunbattle
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — A sheriff ’s deputy who died in a mass shooting at a 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 the chaotic gunbattle 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 unavoidable,” Ayub said. “They were ambushed almost immediately.”
Investigators did not offer any more insight into what drove Ian David Long, 28, to storm the country-western bar during a weekly event for college students.
Helus and the CHP officer returned fire with high-powered rifles, but Long was not struck by any of their rounds and took his own life after the firefight.
Helus was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot, but officials did not say where the bullet entered his body. His wounds from Long’s handgun were serious, but potentially survivable, said Christopher Young, the chief medical examiner.
The CHP officer was only identified as a 9-year veteran of the force. He is on leave. The officer was notified Thursday of the finding by L.D. Maples, chief of the CHP’S Coastal Division.
“He had no clue it was coming,” Maples said. “It surprised all of us. He’s devastated. He’s a consummate professional, well-trained, military background.”