Braveheart cop who died trying to save people during the Thousand Oaks mass shooting was 'killed by friendly fire'
It was revealed that after being struck five times by the gunman, Sgt. Ron Helus was shot once more by a rifle from a CHP officer
It has now come to light that Sgt. Ron Helus, the braveheart police officer who died trying to save hundreds of lives during the Thousand Oaks mass shooting last month, was killed by friendly fire, People reports.
Sheriff Bill Ayub with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said in a news conference on Friday that during the shootout at Borderline Bar & Grill, the 54-year-old cop was struck five times by the gunman, who later took his own life. Amidst the chaos, Helus was shot once more by a rifle from a California Highway Patrol officer.
Ayub explained that the bullet struck Helus in the chest and heart, leading to his death. "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." Sgt. Helus and the CHP officer were reportedly the first responders at the scene and had entered the bar at the same time. However, investigators are still trying to determine whether the friendly fire was "accidental, or a mis-sighting, or perhaps a mistaken identity is something we’re still investigating."
"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 for legal reasons, shot him. Helus later died at the hospital.
Later in the news conference, CHP Coastal Division Chief L.D. Maples explained that the officer in question was a "consummate professional" and didn't know he killed Helus until he was informed on Thursday. "It was a surprise to all of us. He was devastated," Maples said. The CHP officer is on voluntary leave as of now, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Twelve people, including Sgt. Helus, lost their lives at the Borderline Bar & Grill on November 7. The hero officer, who leaves behind his wife and son Jordan, was laid to rest on November 15. "Thank you for sharing the last 31 years of your life with me," his wife said in a speech read aloud at his funeral. "Thank you for being you — my hero, my love and my life."
Chief of Police of Thousand Oaks Tim Hagel told People how Helus 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," Hagel said.