Officer died of friendly fire in Thousand Oaks shooting

California Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, killed in bar mass shooting, gunned down by friendly fire: authorities

Helus positioned himself between former Marine Long and the CHP officer after entering the bar during a country music student night on November 8. It was that sixth round which struck Helus in the chest and heart and ultimately killed him, authorities reported Friday morning.

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. Helus and the California Highway Patrol officer were the first to run into the bar after the 911. They entered the bar together. Ayub said after Long shot bar patrons and employees, he waited for law enforcement to respond and then "almost immediately" began shooting at them.

"The two exchanged gunfire with [the shooter], and Helus was shot multiple times", reports the L.A. Times. "Both men quickly retreated and fired their rifles at the suspect". "Sgt Helus and the CHP officer both knowingly and willingly went into what can only be described as a combat situation, risking their own lives to save others".

"Whether this was accidental, or a missighting, or perhaps a mistaken identity is something we're still investigating", Ayub said.

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. "It surprised all of us". Long is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"These bullets caused serious injuries, but potentially survivable injuries", Young said.

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

As terrified people scrambled out of broken windows, screaming and bleeding and fleeing a mass shooting inside a California bar, Sgt Ron Helus and a highway patrolman chose to try to stop the gunman, running in together with assault-style rifles to what turned out to be an ambush.

Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel said the newly released facts don't alter how he and the department view the tragedy.

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said the incident happened in the heat of the moment over a few seconds and that several lives were saved due to their heroics. The medical examiner said Helus was wearing a protective vest at the time of the shooting. Two of the rounds struck the vest, "but only near the edge of the vest, so in my mind, decreasing protection provided", he said.

The development was to be announced at a news conference at the Ventura County Sheriff's Station in Thousand Oaks, Detective Eric Buschow told The Associated Press.

Long was armed with just one gun that night - a Glock.45-caliber handgun.

Long had stormed the venue and fired more than 50 rounds, hitting 13 people, authorities said. He also had a flashlight with a laser sight.

"The burden lies exclusively with him", Ayub said, "not those who tried to save lives, those who tried to escape and certainly not with those who died while simply trying to enjoy an evening with friends". Many were bleeding from injuries they received while escaping the bar.

Graphic content: Doctors shocked after man coughs up lung clot
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