Officer’s bullet killed deputy
LOS ANGELES — The fatal bullet that struck Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus inside a chaotic shooting scene at the Borderline Bar and Grill in November was fired from a California Highway Patrol officer’s rifle, authorities said Friday.
Helus was hit five times by gunfire from shooter Ian David Long, 28, who was armed with a .45-caliber Glock handgun with a laser sight. However, Helus might have been able to survive those injuries, coroner’s officials said.
The sixth and fatal round, which struck Helus in the chest, was fired from a fellow officer’s gun. Helus was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but officials did not say where the bullet entered his body.
“This news is extremely difficult for all of us to process and understand,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said.
The CHP officer was only identified as a nine-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.”
Helus, a 29-year veteran of the department, and the patrol officer had entered the bar on Nov. 7 to confront Long.
Long had tossed smoke bombs and fired two of his seven highcapacity magazines that packed 30 shots each into the crowd as patrons tried to escape, Ayub said last month. Eleven other people died.
Helus and the CHP officer were the first people to run into the bar, minutes after the first 911 call. Long, who Helus was set up in a tactical position to prepare for responding officers, immediately ambushed them.
“It was just a tragic detail that unfolded so rapidly, in my view it was unavoidable,” Ayub said.
“Sgt. Helus and the CHP officer both knowingly and willingly went into what can only be described as a combat situation, risking their own lives to save others,” Ayub added. “It is a fact that many lives were saved that night.”
Long later was found inside the bar with a single gunshot wound in the head. An autopsy determined he had shot himself, authorities said.
Investigators did not offer any more insight into what drove Long to storm the countrywestern bar.
Ayub said that despite the source of the fatal shot, Long alone is to blame for Helus’ death.