THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA) — Ron Helus, a Ventura County sheriff’s sergeant, was killed in a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks late Wednesday night. He was a 29-year veteran of the force looking to retire within the next year. Thirteen people were killed in a shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, including the shooter and Helus.
Minutes after the shooting was first reported at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday, Helus was the first to enter the bar and was struck several times by gunfire, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. A California Highway Patrol officer who was entering with him retreated, secured the perimeter, then pulled Helus out of the line of fire.
Helus, who lived in neighboring Moorpark with his wife and son, died at about 2 a.m. at a hospital. He was a 29-year veteran of the department and was considering retiring this year.
“Impossible to put any logic or sense to the senseless,” Dean said during a news conference.
Helus reportedly called his wife just before going into the building.
Ventura County sheriff’s spokesman Captain Garo Kuredjian said a procession was set for 10 a.m. to take Helus’ body from Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks to the examiner’s office in Ventura. He described Helus as a cop’s cop.
“When he heard gunfire, he went in and that’s something would expect from Ron,” Kuredjian said.
The shooter has not been identified, and authorities say they have not found any link to terror at this time. A handgun was recovered at the scene, which Dean says has not been examined in detail yet.
Dean said the shooter was already dead when officers made entry. It’s not clear how he died.
Authorities found up to 15 more people at the scene with injuries, not including those who escaped from the nightclub, which had been hosting a “College Country” night.
Thousand Oaks, one of the largest cities in Ventura County, is about 40 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s considered one of the safest cities with a population of more than 100,000 in the country, according to FBI crime statistics.
“You know, I’ve been a cop for 41 years, and I never thought I would see the things around the country that would happen,” Dean said. “But I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter what community you’re in, it doesn’t matter how safe your community is. It can happen anywhere.”