California bar shooting: Thousands line streets to honour killed ‘hero’ cop Ron Helus
The first policeman on the scene of the deadly mass shooting at a California bar has been given a hero’s salute as his body was carried through the streets of Thousand Oaks in a hearse.
- Sergeant Helus was struck by bullets as he exchanged fire with the shooter
- He was taken to hospital but died of his wounds
- Colleagues said “when you call 911, he’s one of the guys you want showing up”
Ron Helus was on the phone with his wife when he received calls about a gunman opening fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.
The Ventura Country Sheriff’s Sergeant bid his wife goodbye for the final time before running towards danger.
“Hey, I got to go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later,” he told her, Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
Sergeant Helus charged into the bar and exchanged fire with the shooter, taking several bullets in the process.
Sergeant Helus burst through the bar doors, shooting at the gunman. (AP: Ventura County Sheriff’s Department)
“The fact that he was the first in the door doesn’t surprise me at all,” Sergeant Eric Buschow said.
“He’s just one of those guys that wouldn’t hesitate in a situation.”
His actions undoubtably saved lives, authorities say.
“Through that act of heroism, there are families that are able to hug their loved ones tonight,” Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom said.
“There are lives that will change for generations because of his heroism.”
Sergeant Helus was taken to hospital, but his wounds were so severe he could not be saved.
Thousands of civillians turned out to salute Sergeant Helus as his hearse passed. (AP: Marcio Jose Sanchez )
Colleagues farewell ‘cop’s cop’
A large motorcade followed a hearse as Sergeant Helus’s body was taken from the Thousand Oaks hospital to a coroner’s facility in Ventura.
The procession included dozens of police vehicles, with part of the route blocked off to traffic to allow locals to pay their respects.
The procession consisted of dozens of law enforcement vehicles. (Twitter: Los Angeles Police Department )
Firefighters raised a large US flag over the route in honour of Sergeant Helus, with thousands of civilians lining the streets to honour him along the 40-kilometre journey.
Friends of the policeman said he had planned on retiring soon after 29 years on the force, working in the SWAT team for much of his career.
He was called a “cop’s cop” by his colleagues.
“When you call 911, he’s one of the guys you want showing up,” Sergeant Buschow said.
“He was just a great guy, a gentle soul. Patient, calm no matter what.”
Sergeant Helus was one of 13 people who died in the shooting along with gunman David Long, a former US Marine who served in Afghanistan and may have suffered PTSD.
Law enforcement officers salute Sergeant Helus as his body is placed in a hearse. (Twitter: Thousand Oaks Station, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)