THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The bullet that killed Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus during November's shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks was fired by a California Highway Patrol officer.
Helus was hit five times by bullets fired by the shooter, Marine veteran Ian David Long, but he may have been able to survive those injuries, according to the coroner's report. The sixth and fatal bullet, which hit Helus in the chest, was fired by a fellow officer. Helus later died at a hospital.
“This news is extremely difficult for all of us to process and understand,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said.
The 29-year law enforcement veteran was set to retire from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office next year. He was among the first officers through the door at the Borderline when the shooting began November 8 and was shot as he tried to stop the gunman, who killed 11 others in the attack.
CHP released a statement expressing the department's sadness at the news:
“(CHP) is profoundly saddened to learn of new details emerging from the horrific incident which resulted from the deadly actions of suspect Ian David Long at the Borderline Bar ... We know that Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus and a CHP officer bravely entered the bar together and engaged the suspect who had already shot and killed numerous people inside the establishment. The suspect, who had been lying in wait for the officers to arrive, immediately ambushed the pair with gunfire as they entered the building. While the officers’ actions prevented the suspect from shooting more patrons, tragically, during the brief and chaotic gunfight that ensued, a round by our officer struck Sgt. Helus.
The mere thought of something like this happening is devastating to all of us and underscores the difficult and dangerous circumstances law enforcement faces, often with only mere seconds to react."
Helus was among the first officers through the door at the Borderline. "He was totally committed, he gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero," Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said on the night of the attack.
Police later found Long dead inside the bar of what is believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.