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Deputy killed by friendly fire in bar shootout

08 December 2018

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, who worked alongside Helus until his death at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks last month said: "This news is extremely hard for all of us to process and understand" during a police update Friday.

Sgt. Ron Helus was struck five times by gunfire from the suspect, Ian David Long, according to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, but was hit by a sixth bullet from a CHP officer's rifle.

Amid the chaos and confusion, as bleeding bar-goers were fleeing, Helus and a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer who responded with him were attacked nearly immediately by Long, who fired multiple rounds at them, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a news conference Friday.

The bullets fired by gunman David Long "caused serious injuries but potentially survivable injuries", Ventura County Chief Medical Examiner Christopher Young said.

Sgt. Ron Helus Killed in mass shooting at bar
Sgt. Ron Helus Killed in mass shooting at bar

"Ultimately, this was the most severe injury sustained", Young said.

At a previous news conference late last month, Young explained that most of the victims were shot at close range, and that all of them had died quickly and could not have survived their wounds.

Helus, a 29-year law enforcement veteran, was set to retire from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office next year.

Helus responded to the scene after Long stormed into the Thousand Oaks bar November 7 and sprayed the crowd with gunfire, killing 12 people. After he was shot, officers pulled him from the scene, but he died later that night in a hospital.

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'It was just a tragic detail that unfolded so rapidly, in my view it was unavoidable, ' Ayub said.

"It is important to remember that the horrific circumstances at the Borderline Bar and Grill on that Wednesday night, exactly one month ago today, were caused by the evil action of one individual: the man who murdered twelve people and injured twenty-two others", said Ayub. The suspect, who had been lying in wait for the officers to arrive, immediately ambushed the pair with gunfire as they entered the building. "And unfortunately, it was dynamic, there was a lot of movement, there was smoke, it was dark". The burden lies exclusively with him - not those who tried to save lives. I love you. I'll talk to you later'.

The new sheriff, who took over just days after the shooting, said the news from the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been "extremely difficult" for the department to process.

CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a statement the agency was "profoundly saddened" by the news. "The mere thought of something like this happening is devastating to all of us and underscores the hard and unsafe circumstances law enforcement faces, often with only mere seconds to react".

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"We were aware of the injuries sustained by Sgt. Helus, but we needed confirmation from ballistics, and it wasn't certain that it was friendly fire", Young said. There are no words that can be expressed as to the incredible sorrow his family is dealing with.

LD Maples, CHP's coastal division chief, said he delivered the news to the officer in question Thursday.

'He had no clue it was coming, ' Maples said.

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Deputy killed by friendly fire in bar shootout