Police Reveal Hero Officer Who Responded to Thousand Oaks Mass Shooting Was Killed by Friendly Fire
After being struck five times during a shootout at Borderline Bar & Grill with the gunman, who later took his own life, Helus, 54, was shot once more by a rifle from a California Highway Patrol officer, Sheriff Bill Ayub with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said in a news conference Friday.
The bullet struck Helus in the chest and heart, ultimately killing him, Ayub explained.
“Today I’m deeply saddened to inform you that Sgt. Helus was also struck by a sixth bullet, which we now know through forensic analysis from the FBI’s crime laboratory, was fired from the CHP officer’s rifle,” Ayub said in the news conference.
“Tragically, that bullet struck vital organs, and was fatal.”
At this time, police are still determining whether or not the friendly fire was “accidental, or a missighting, or perhaps a mistaken identity is something we’re still investigating.” Sgt. Helus and the CHP officer were the first on the scene and entered the bar around the same time.
“When Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a CHP officer entered the bar, the suspect attacked almost immediately, firing multiple rounds at both men,” Ayub said. “Sgt. Helus was struck five times by gunfire from the suspect. Both men quickly retreated and fired their rifles at the suspect.” It was then that CHP officer, who has not been named, shot Helus. Helus later died at the hospital.
CHP Coastal Division Chief L.D. Maples later explained in the news conference that the CHP officer, who he described as a “consummate professional” didn’t know he killed Helus and was informed Thursday.
“It was a surprise to all of us. He was devastated,” Maples said. According to CBS Los Angeles, the CHP officer is on voluntary leave.
Sgt. Helus was shot and killed along with 11 other people at the Boderline Bar & Grill on Nov. 7. He leaves behind his wife and their son Jordan.
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Before entering the bar, Helus had been on the phone with his wife. “I love you, I’ll talk to you later,” he told her.
Helus was laid to rest on Nov. 15 and thousands reportedly packed the Calvary Community Church for his funeral.
“Thank you for sharing the last 31 years of your life with me,” his wife said in a statement read aloud at the funeral. “Thank you for being you — my hero, my love and my life.”
Chief of Police of Thousand Oaks Tim Hagel also opened up about time he shared with Helus telling PEOPLE, “He was an amazing man, a cop’s cop.”
“I mean, for real. You always hear ‘he’s a hero, she’s a hero,’ Ron literally… you know, we have patrol briefings like you see on television where the sergeants in there like, ‘Okay, everyone be safe out there!’ This guy gives a half-hour safety tactical briefing to his troops out there every night for 20 years, like you see on television.”