Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus died Wednesday night after responding to the scene of a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.
Helus, a veteran sheriff’s sergeant for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, was the first officer on the scene at Borderline Bar and Grill after several 911 calls went out around 11:20 pm on Wednesday. Upon arriving to the scene, WRAL News reported, Helus heard gunfire and went inside.
The shooter, equipped with smoke bombs and a .45 caliber handgun, immediately fired on Helus, who was hit multiple times. A responding state trooper pulled Helus out of the bar as the SWAT team arrived, and Helus died later at the hospital. He was a 29-year veteran of the police force, a father of one, and set to retire next year, according to the BBC.
“Today we mourn the loss of Sergeant Ron Helus who gave his life serving his community,” the Ventura Country Sheriff’s Office said in a post on Facebook. “Please keep his family and the families of the victims in your thoughts and prayers.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office
Along with Helus, 11 people were killed inside the bar. The shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States nine months, since the Parkland, Florida shooting inside a high school that left 17 students and teachers dead. Just two weeks ago, a gunman killed 11 people inside a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue.
“Ron was a hardworking dedicated sheriff’s sergeant,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said during a news briefing. “He was totally committed. He gave his all. Tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives, to save other people.”
Cover image via Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images