Saying it’s news that’s “extremely difficult for all of us to process and understand,” Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub confirmed a bullet fired by a California Highway Patrol officer killed Sgt. Ron Helus at the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, Nov. 7.
According to reports, Helus was struck five times by gunfire from suspect Ian David Long and was hit once by a bullet from a CHP officer’s weapon. That bullet, which hit vital organs, was the fatal shot.
Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said “This news is extremely difficult for all of us to process and understand,” he says.
As reported by Los Angeles Times reporter Soumya Karlamangl and the Facebook video of the press conference, Ayub said both the CHP cop and Helus “knowingly and willingly went into what can only be described as a combat situation, risking their own lives to save many others and it is a fact that many lives were saved that night.”
It’s reported that Helus was struck in the heart by the highway patrol cop’s bullet and that he might have survived the shots from Long, according to Ventura County Medical Examiner Christopher Young. The CHP cop fired a rifle. The officer, who has not yet been named, was told Thursday that it was his shot that killed his colleague and was described as “shocked and devastated,” and is taking voluntary time off. It’s reported the officer has been on the job with CHP for 9 years.
Helus responded to the shooting and was struck. He was a 29-year veteran of the sheriff’s department and was one year away from retirement.
CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley issued a statement saying in part, “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.”
Stanley said Helus “died a hero while protecting his community from a dangerous criminal.”
“In the face of danger, Sgt. Helus courageously upheld the oath he took to lay down his life rather than swerve from the path of duty.”
Authorities say Long, 28 and a former Marine, was responsible for the mass shooting of 12 people at the bar on college country music night. The alleged mass shooter reportedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Stanely said Helus and the un-named 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.” Stanley called it a “horrific” tragedy.