What we know about the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks, California, dance bar

What we know about the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks, California, dance bar

California Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus killed in bar shooting, died a hero, made last call to wife

(CNN)Back in April, officers in Thousand Oaks, California, responded to a disturbance at the home where Ian David Long lived.

CNNs Jose Pagliery, Shimon Prokupecz, Scott Glover, Paul P. Murphy, Cheri Mossburg, Ryan Browne, Sonya Hamasaki and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

By the time they entered the bar again the gunfire had stopped, and they found 12 people dead inside, including Helus and the gunman. A 24-mile procession was held for Helus before noon, as a hearse carried his body from the bar to the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office. Firefighters, police and school children saluted the caravan as it passed by.

Ventura County Sheriffs Office remembers fallen colleague Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed after responding to calls of gunshots at Californias Borderline Bar & Grill.

But when Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer entered the bar about 11:20 p.m., gunshots were already piercing the room. He and the CHP officer went inside, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, who held an emotional news conference outside the bar early Thursday morning.

He died a hero: Sheriffs sergeant dies in California bar mass shooting

The California sheriff's sergeant first on the scene at Wednesday night's mass shooting heard gunfire booming inside the bar and instinctively ran into the crowded venue — where he "died a hero," one of 12 people killed by a former Marine who ended the massacre by committing suicide.

"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff's sergeant who was totally committed," Dean said, choking back a few tears and clearing his throat.  "And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives."

Video: At least 11 injured in shooting at California bar

Telemachus Tel Orfanos, 27, survived mass shooting in Las Vegas but not one in his hometown Thousand Oaks

Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus – who was nearing retirement in about a year — "gave it his all" but was shot multiple times by 28-year-old gunman Ian David Long and later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and grown son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, who choked back tears several times as he talked about a man who was also his longtime friend.

The first reports of shots fired at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks came in around 11:20 p.m. on a night the packed bar was hosting a special "College Country Night" event. Dean said Helus made one last call before heading to the scene: to his wife.

His Facebook profile listed him as a veteran of the Navy. According to a 2009 article in his hometown newspaper, the Thousand Oaks Acorn, he was also an Eagle Scout. Under a photo of the then-18-year-old Orfanos, the newspaper reported that his Eagle Scout project involved public safety at Thousand Oaks High School, and that he’d earned it as a member of Troop No. 765 of Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Sgt. Ron Helus was among the 12 people killed when a gunman opened fire inside Borderline Bar and Grill. (Ventura County Sheriffs Office)

I hope to God no one sends me anymore prayers. I want gun control. No more guns! – mother of shooting victim Telemachus Orfanos. She says he survived the #LasVegasShooting but did not survive the #ThousandOaksMassacre. @ABC7 @ABCNewsLive pic.twitter.com/UMqTY1RATK

Helus was having a conversation with his wife on the phone at the time he got the call about the shooting, as he does several times during his the shift, according to Dean.

“And I dont want prayers, I dont want thoughts, I want gun control,” Schmidt-Orfanos said, her voice breaking with the rawness of her emotions. “And I hope to God nobody else sends me any more prayers. I want gun control. No more guns!”

Video: Deadly Shooting At Bar In Southern California

"He said to her, 'I gotta go handle a call, I love you. I'll talk to you later,'" he told reporters.

Telemachus Orfanos, who survived the Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre in Las Vegas a year ago, was again with friends and fans of country music when he was shot and killed in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday.

The sheriff said it was only three minutes later that Helus made entry to the bar with two California highway patrol officers. The cops believed there were other victims still trapped in the bar, but as Helus entered the front door, he was struck "multiple times" by gunfire.

Susan Schmidt-Orfanos, her voice and head shaking with grief and rage, said outside her familys home, “My son was in Las Vegas with one of his friends and he came home. He didnt come home last night. And I dont want prayers, I dont want thoughts, I want gun control and I hope to God nobody else sends me more prayers. I want gun control. No. More. Guns.”

“They knew they had to take action, and they went in and did what they had to do," Dean said.

"You know we go to the gym together, work out together, and its horrific and terrible and it saddens our heart," said Dean, who appeared visibly emotional and on the verge of tears.

"There's just no way to describe this," he said. "It saddens us all and it tears at our hearts and emotions as it should."

Telemachus “Tel” Orfanos lost his life in the Borderline Bar and Grill, less than 10 minutes from his home.

His colleague, Sgt. Julie Novak, told "FOX & friends" that Helus was "an amazing guy" who loved helping people.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told the media that 911 had received multiple calls that a shooting was taken place at the Borderline Bar and Grill at around 11:20 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday night. He identified the sheriffs sergeant who died as Ron Helus. He said that the suspect, who has not been identified but is thought to have acted alone, was dead when more officers arrived on the scene. Helus died at a local hospital; the bodies of the other 11 were found at the bar when other officers arrived.

"He probably should have retired a couple years ago, he could have, but he stayed on because he loved the fight," Novak said. "He loved helping people, he loved protecting people. He did exactly that tonight."

Ventura County Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus was a 29-year veteran of the department, and was planning on pursuing his doctorate degree, according to his LinkedIn. (Facebook)

Update, 10:08 a.m. ET: During a Thursday morning press conference, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean corrected earlier reports, naming the shooter as 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran Ian David Long. Dean confirmed that local law enforcement had had several run-ins with Long in the past, but did not offer a motive for Wednesday nights shooting.

Novaks said that Helus went into the building with "no idea" what to expect — only knowing he wanted to help those inside.

One witness to the shooting, Matt Wennerstrom, told reporters that the shooter had a handgun and that he had first noticed him opening fire on employees at the bars front desk. He said he and other patrons had smashed some of the bars windows and helped other people escape through them.

Thousand Oaks shooting: These are the victims and their stories

The California Highway Patrol officers that accompanied Helus into the bar ended up rescuing him when Long opened fire.

Ventura County Sheriffs office Capt. Garo Kuredjian says the first reports of gun shots happened at 11:20pm Wednesday night at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

Ventura County Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus was looking to retire in the next year or so, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. (Facebook.)

Helus' LinkedIn page showed he was an FBI certified firearms instructor and a POST — Peace Officer's Standards and Training — instructor. He earned a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma, and had planned to pursue a doctorate degree in the "near future."

This was College Country night at the bar, where police say there were hundreds of people inside during the shooting.

Borderline Bar regular who survived Route 91 shooting speaks out on tragedy: Its the suckiest community to be a part of, but its also the greatest

"I have thousands of hours of specialized training," he wrote." I work or have worked, the following assignments: Custody; patrol (Deputy, Senior Deputy, Sergeant); SWAT; all aspects of firearms, less lethal, and chemical agents instruction; investigations; narcotics; and wellness advisor."

"Our hearts are broken," the couple said in a joint statement. "We just learned that our niece Alaina was one of the victims of last night’s shooting at Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks. Alaina was an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her and we are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner. We thank everyone for your prayers and ask for privacy at this time."

Tyler Spady describes the terrifying moment the gunman aimed at the crowd he was in at Californias Borderline Bar & Grill.

“Dan’s life was dedicated to serving others, during his military career and beyond,” said John Pinter, executive director of Team RWB. “We offer our deepest condolences to the Manrique family and ask that our Eagles around the world join us in keeping all those impacted by this tragedy in your thoughts and prayers.”

Father, Between Sobs, Says Oldest Son Was Killed in California Mass Shooting: This Is So Hard

In a series of tweets, President Trump praised Helus and the "great bravery shown by police."

The attack on the bar – a college favorite that was hosting a country music event – was the nation's deadliest shooting since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

"California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times," the president said. "That Sheriff’s Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement."

Helus, a veteran of 29 years, and a patrolman entered the bar after hearing gunshots. When they went through the front door, Helus was struck multiple times by gunfire. The patrolman rescued Helus from the line of gunfire and he was taken to a local hospital, where he died early Thursday.

"The thoughts of every #NYPD member this morning are with the families & colleagues of all those killed or injured in the shooting inside a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar — 12 innocent lives taken, including the first Ventura County cop on the scene: Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran," New York Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said.


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