The Hero in the California Shooting Was a Dedicated Cop

Sgt. Ron Helus saved others when his own life was severely threatened — as so many of our first responders do on a daily basis

Image Credit: Facebook, Ventura County Sheriffs Department / David McNew/Stringer/Getty

He had just a few months to go until his retirement, after nearly three decades of service to his community as a police officer.

He was married and the father of a son.

And when a shooter opened fire in a packed California bar late on Wednesday night, this man rushed forward — not away — into the line of fire.

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And after it was all over, he almost certainly saved a number of lives — people who would not be here today this man had not acted swiftly, strongly, and shown enormous bravery in the face of evil.

Can you name anyone you know who would do this in a similar circumstance?

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You can, almost certainly — if you know police officers, firefighters, veterans, military members and others of their ilk.

This is what they do, the vast majority of them. This is who they are. They is how they act.

Late Wednesday night, Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus, a sheriff’s sergeant, was among the first to rush inside the bar that was the scene of yet another mass shooting in this country.

Helus was struck many times and later died at the hospital, said authorities, as many outlets, including NBC News, are reporting.

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There is no doubt it takes a special person to rush toward danger, into chaos, hate and confusion in order to save other human beings.

These people leave their own lives in the background, put that aside, think of others first — and clearly, Ron Helus, did this in spades.

Sheriff Geoff Dean hailed the bravery of this individual.

“He gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero,” said Dean to the media as he worked hard to hold back the tears. “He went in to save lives, to save people.”

The shooting happened during a “college country night” at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, according to police.

Hundreds of people were inside the Borderline Bar & Grill when shots rang out at about 11:20 p.m., Ventura County police said.

Deputies and highway patrolmen arrived at the scene within mere minutes of receiving multiple calls of shots fired, said Sheriff Dean during his press conference.

Helus, along with a patrolman, entered the bar after he heard more gunshots.

Just as the two of them went through the front door of the bar, Helus was struck multiple times by gunfire.

The patrolmen rescued the deputy from that horrible scene — and Helus was rushed to a local hospital, where he died early on Thursday morning.

In total, 12 people lost their lives in this tragic and senseless shooting.

“It is a horrific scene in there. There is blood everywhere,” said Dean.

Witnesses inside the bar told local news outlets that patrons used chairs to break windows.

Some also hid in the club’s attic in between rounds of gunfire.

Several witnesses told TV stations that a tall man clad all in black with a hood and his face partly covered first shot at a bouncer working the door.

Then he opened fire, seemingly at random, at the people inside.

The suspect in the shooting was also found dead in the bar and his identity is now being released by authorities, The Los Angeles Times reported. And the early word is that the suspect was an ex-Marine who may have been suffering from PTSD.

The outlet also said, “Ian David Long, 28, lived in Newbury Park, not far from the club where he threw smoke bombs and rained bullets on a crowd of more than 100 people Wednesday night.”

May Sgt. Ron Helus rest in peace.

May his family, friends and colleagues find comfort in the difficult days ahead.

And may an event like this never, ever happen again, please God.

In a statement provided to LifeZette, pastor, evangelist, and nationally syndicated radio host Greg Laurie of Riverside, California, shared these thoughts: “Whenever these horrible shootings happen, we immediately pivot to issues like gun control and mental illness. Those discussions all have their place, of course, but there is another factor at work, in fact the most significant factor of all: pure evil.”

He added that the Bible says “there really is a devil, there really is evil, and because of this people can be be motivated to do unimaginable things, like a man walking into a bar and indiscriminately shooting people.”

“Let’s all continue to pray for the families of those who were killed. Their lives will be changed forever.”

“This is why America needs to pray,” he added. “We need to pray for the protection of people wherever they are — synagogues, churches, malls, restaurants and wherever else they congregate. We must also acknowledge the courageous efforts of law enforcement and other first responders.”

“Sgt. Ron Helus was a true hero. Let’s all continue to pray for the families of those who were killed. Their lives will be changed forever. They need to turn to the ‘God of all comfort’ in a time like this.”

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meet the author

Maureen Mackey served as editor-in-chief and managing editor of LifeZette for nearly five years. Before that, she held senior editorial positions at major publications, helping The Fiscal Times win a MIN Award for Best New Site as managing editor and Reader's Digest win an American Society of Magazine Editors Award for General Excellence as book editor. Her work has appeared in Real Clear Politics, CNBC, A Fine Line, AARP Magazine, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and The Week, among other outlets. She is a member of the Newswomen's Club of New York and the American Legion Auxiliary.

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