A 29-year-veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office was killed during a horrific mass murder in Thousand Oaks, California, late Wednesday night.
Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, the first officer to enter the Borderline Bar & Grill, was met by deadly gunfire, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said during a news conference. Helus was hit several times.
"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant," Dean said, choking back tears. "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."
Helus arrived at the club just minutes after the first 911 call at 11:20 p.m. He was accompanied by an officer from the California Highway Patrol on his way into the building. The CHP officer retreated, secured the perimeter and then pulled Helus out of the line of fire, KCAL reported.
At least 12 others, including the killer, were killed during the attack, and 15 others were injured during the incident, which occurred during “College Country” night.
More about Helus
Helus, who lived in nearby Moorpark, leaves behind his wife and son.
He called his wife shortly before going into the nightclub.
"He said, ‘Hon, I got to go, I love you. I gotta go on a call,’” Dean said.
Thousand Oaks is about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles and It’s considered one of the safest large cities in the country, according to FBI crime statistics, USA Today reported.
“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.”
Helus died at about 2 a.m. at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks. He was considering retiring within the next year.
The killer used a .45 caliber handgun during the attack, according to authorities, the AP reported. He was found dead inside the club. It's not yet clear how he died.
Authorities have not yet determined a motive for the killings.
This was the deadliest mass killing in the U.S. since the massacre in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2017.
This is a developing story and will be updated.