Thousand Oaks, CA – The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced that the sheriff’s sergeant who was killed while responding to a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in 2018 had tripped and fallen moments before he was shot by the gunman and a fellow law enforcement officer (video below).
Prosecutors also released a compilation video and audio on Thursday from the night of the shooting.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran-of-the-force, was one of 12 people who were killed during the mass shooting on Nov. 7, 2018.
He fought valiantly until the last moment, despite having been shot multiple times, the video showed.
The district attorney’s office announced Thursday that Sgt. Helus and the other law enforcement officers who returned fire during the attack were justified in doing so, according to ABC News.
Sgt. Helus, 54, was among the first law enforcement officers to respond to the scene of the Borderline Bar & Grill mass shooting.
“When he heard gunfire, he went in and that’s something [we] would expect from Ron,” Ventura County then-Sheriff Geoff Dean said at the time, according to KCBS.
Sgt. Helus entered the dark, smoky bar and exchanged gunfire with the shooter, Ian David Long, ABC News reported.
According to the Ventura County District Attorney’s report, the sergeant was trying to move back towards the door amid the chaos, when his feet became tangled in a rope.
He fell to the ground and was rising back to his feet just outside the front door as California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer Todd Barrett was returning fire at Long from outside the bar, ABC News reported.
Long, who was still inside the building, shot Sgt. Helus five times during the mayhem.
The medical examiner later determined that the sergeant was killed by a sixth round as a result of friendly fire.
The bullet, which was fired by Officer Barrett, pierced Sgt. Helus’ heart, ABC News reported.
Prosecutors determined Officer Barrett’s shooting of Sgt. Helus was an accident, and he will not face criminal charges.
“In an extraordinary act of heroism due to the active threat Long posed, Sergeant Helus and Officer Barrett entered the Borderline without knowledge of where Long was located, which afforded Long a substantial tactical advantage,” the prosecutors’ report read.
Long, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, had taken a tactical position inside the bar and was waiting for law enforcement to walk around the corner, according to the district attorney’s office.
Footage of the shootout showed the wounded sergeant returning fire at Long while retreating, ABC News reported.
“It is a testament to his training, character, and valor that even though he had been shot in the heart, he found the strength and determination to continue to protect others and fight to the end,” prosecutors wrote.
Former Sheriff Dean described Sgt. Helus as a “hardworking, dedicated” public servant, CBS News reported.
“It’s so tragic losing Ron,” Sheriff Dean said, according to CNN. “We go to the gym together, work out together. It’s horrific and terrible and it saddens our hearts.”
The married father-of-one had given nearly three decades of his life to his department, and planned to retire in about a year.
“He went in to save lives, to save other people,” Sheriff Dean said at the time. “He was totally committed, he gave his all, and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero.”
According to the district attorney’s report, Long threw multiple smoke grenades into the packed establishment to help block others from seeing him as he slipped inside, ABC News reported.
He began shooting employees and patrons inside the Borderline just seconds after he walked in, ABC News reported.
Mass chaos ensued as people piled on top of one another and hid beneath tables in their scramble to avoid being shot.
Others ran out doorways or busted windows so they could jump out of the building, ABC News reported.
Investigators said Long spent about 20 minutes shooting at people with his .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun.
He fired 61 rounds before he turned the gun on himself.
Long still had another 129 bullets on him when investigators found his body, ABC News reported.
You can see the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: