Officer killed in California bar shooting described as hero

Sergio Conner
November 8, 2018

Police said hundreds were inside when the shooting occurred. Because it was the bars' weekly College Country Night, many of Ian's victims were students of Pepperdine University.

"We believe he shot himself", Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

On Wednesday night, students gathered for college country night between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to the bar's website. He said responding deputies could hear gunshots as they arrived. It appears that Long then shot other security workers and employees inside before opening fire further inside the club, Dean said.

There was no screaming, she said - just gunfire and stampeding crowds. Sheriff's Office has confirmed the shooter is among the dead.

He joined the Marines in 2008 and rose to the rank of corporal before leaving active service in 2013, Marine spokesman Joseph Butterfield wrote in an email.

He was interviewed by police at his home in April after an episode of agitated behaviour that they were told might be post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sheriff Dean said the suspect is still unknown and an investigation is ongoing.

"You know, I've been a cop for 41 years, and I never thought I would see the things around the country that would happen", Dean said.

Mental health professionals sent to evaluate him concluded he did not need to be taken into custody, he said.

He was armed with a.45-caliber Glock 21 handgun that he had legally purchased in Simi Valley, as well as a "smoke device", he said.

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"I can not believe it has happened to my family", he said.

A woman in the background added: "He was kind of a loner".

His voice cracking, Dean described Helus as a friend.

Helus had been at the department for almost three decades, and was planning to retire within the next year, the sheriff said, choking back tears.

"He reloaded and then just kept on popping them off", said Tim, John's stepdad. Police found the shooter dead inside, possibly from a self-inflicted wound. "Just an awesome investigator".

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.

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. "But I've learned, it doesn't matter what community you're in, it doesn't matter how safe your community is".

Spady said he didn't get a good look at the gunman other than to see that he was dressed in all black.

The massacre was the fourth mass shooting in the United States in less than two weeks. Eleven people were shot and killed in the incident, and numerous others were wounded.

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