"Hero" cop shot dead saving lives in California bar was year off retirement

A "hero" cop who was a year off retirement was shot dead in the mass shooting at a California bar last night, it has emerged.

Sgt Ron Helus was shot multiple times by a gunman after entering the front door of the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

Although he was then pulled out of the line of gunfire by a highway patrol officer, he tragically died in hospital earlier today.

Today, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Sgt Helus had died "a hero", adding: "He went in to save lives, to save other people."

The cop, who is survived by his wife and son, was a 29-year veteran who had planned to retire next year, Sheriff Dean told reporters.

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He and the highway patrol officer had responded to the shooting after hearing shots being fired from inside the bar and grill.

The pair "felt there might be additional victims inside".

"Upon going through the front door, the sheriff’s sergeant was struck multiple times with gunfire," Sheriff Dean said at a news conference.

"The highway patrol officer stepped back and secured the perimeter.

"He rescued the sergeant out of the line of gunfire."

Sgt Helus was rushed to hospital, but passed away early this morning.

Sheriff Dean visibly choked back tears several times as he talked about the long-serving sergeant, who was "totally committed".

"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant," he said.

"And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives."

Twelve people, including Sgt Helus, were killed after the gunman walked into the bar and opened fire not long before midnight.

The suspect is also dead, the sheriff said today, adding that around 10 other people were shot and wounded in the horrific attack.

Hundreds of revellers – many, teenagers – were inside the bar when bullets started flying and smoke bombs were reportedly let off.

Victims were forced to hide in bathrooms and attic crawlspaces as the shooting unfolded, while armed cops descended on the scene.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garo Kuredjian said the first reports of shots fired came at around 11.20pm local time.

Tayler Whitler, 19, was inside the bar when the suspect began shooting people at random, leaving many soaked in blood.

"It was really, really, really shocking," the teenager told KABC-TV, while standing with her dad outside Borderline.

"It looked like he knew what he was doing."

Another teenager, Mitchell Hunter, 19, was forced to break a window with a chair to escape from the terrifying gunshots.

Mitchell, of Simi Valley, was left with bloodied hands after smashing the window, according to the Ventura County Star.

He made his escape after hearing shots on the dancefloor.

A third witness described the gunman’s weapon as a “submachine gun with a big ass magazine.”

“He started popping off and everyone ducked down,” the witness recalled.

“He started throwing smoke grenades. People just started jumping out of windows.

“My friend got hit. It went through his shoulder.

“We were behind a barrier and then he popped off another 30 rounds.
“The cops came and dragged everyone out.”

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