Police sergeant one year from retirement among California shooting victims after 'going in to save lives'

Chris Parsons
News Editor
Sgt. Ron Helus, who was due to retire next year, was among the victims of the gun rampage in Thousand Oaks, California. (KGO San Francisco/PA)

A ‘dedicated’ police officer who was one year from retirement died in the California bar massacre while trying to stop the gunman, it emerged today.

Sgt. Ron Helus, who’d worked in law enforcement for 29 years, was among the victims at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks after he ‘went in to save lives’.

He was one of the first officers through the door of the bar, according to CNN, but died at the hands of the gunman who killed 11 others.

Sgt. Helus had a wife and son, and was due to retire in the next year from Ventura County, California Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Ron Helus, in an image from his social media profile. (Facebook)

The gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles, at about 11.20pm on Wednesday night.

Police said that hundreds of people were in the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and shots were still being fired when officers arrived.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, describing Sgt. Helus, said: ‘He went into save lives, to save other people.

‘He was totally committed, he gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero.’
‘It’s so tragic losing Ron. We go to the gym together, work out together. it’s horrific and terrible and it saddens our hearts.’

A victim of the shooting is wheeled away minutes after the gun rampage. (PA)
Shocked bystanders are treated at the scene in Thousand Oaks, California. (PA)

President Trump today praised the bravery of police in responding to the shooting.

Mr Trump said on Twitter that he has been “fully briefed on the terrible shooting”.

He praised law enforcement, saying “Great bravery shown by police” and said “God bless all of the victims and families of the victims”.

Forensics officers scour the scene at the Borderline Bar & Grill after the shooting. (PA)
Officers scramble to the California bar, which was said to be popular with local students. (PA)

The Borderline Bar & Grill lists a ‘College Country Night’ which takes place on Wednesdays, and is said to be popular with students.

Authorities have identified the gunman and the handgun he used to kill 12 people at a southern California bar.

An official said the man was 29 years old and deployed a smoke device and used a .45-calibre handgun when he opened fire inside the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, north of Los Angeles.