WESTLAKE VILLAGE (CBSLA) — More than a thousand law enforcement officers and Gov. Jerry Brown were on hand to pay their final respects to a Ventura County sheriff’s sergeant who died while trying to save lives at the Borderline Bar & Grill.
Scores of law enforcement officers, family and friends packed a Westlake Village church for services held Thursday at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village for Sgt. Ron Helus, 54, who a week ago was the first officer inside the Thousand Oaks bar and was shot to death.
Helus’ niece, Lauren Smith, hailed her uncle as a hero for confronting a gunman and likely buying time for hundreds of people inside to escape.
“In the last few days, our family has experienced an outpouring of love that is nothing short of inspiring,” Smith said. “We are overwhelmed by the level of care and sympathy that this community — our community — has shown us.”
Sheriff’s officials say Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer who had also heard reports of an active shooter at the bar over the radio exchanged gunfire with the suspect, 28-year-old Marine Corps. veteran Ian Long. When Helus was shot, the CHP officer pulled him from the building.
Helus died at nearby Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks.
Long was ultimately found dead inside the building of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, but not before killing 11 others inside the club, which had been crowded with mostly students during its weekly country music and line dancing night
Helus, a 29-year law enforcement, spent most of his career on the department’s SWAT team. He is survived by his grown son and wife, who he was on the phone with before running into the line of fire. Sheriff’s officials say his final words to her were that he loved her and would call her later.
The funeral service was followed by a graveside service at nearby Pierce Brothers Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)