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Funeral Underway for Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant who Died in Thousand Oaks Shooting

November 15, 2018 - 12:04 pm

THOUSAND OAKS (AP/CBS News/KNX 1070) -  A huge contingent of law enforcement officers, from around the state and possibly from around the country, was expected to be in Westlake Village Thursday for the funeral of a Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant who was gunned down trying to stop the mass murder at the Borderline Bar and Grill.

Sergeant Ron Helus was killed at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks during last week’s mass shooting. 

More than a thousand law enforcement personnel are expected to attend today's service, which begins at noon at Calvary Community Church and is open to the public. 

Helus will be buried with full law-enforcement honors, including an aerial flyover of sheriff’s helicopters.

The service will be followed by a brief procession to a nearby cemetery where he'll be laid to rest.

KNX reporters Jon Baird and Pete Demetriou are following the funeral:

The following street closures will occur, according to the Westlake Village website:

  • Via Rocas will be closed south of Cedarvalley from 7:00 AM to approximately 3:00 PM.
  • La Tienda will be closed east of Calvary/Oaks Christian Gate E (the westerly high school driveway) during the same period.
  • Traffic will be stopped on Via Colinas and Lindero to permit passage of the procession at approximately 1:15 PM.  Expect delays up to an hour.
  • The Russell Ranch Road westbound lanes will be closed from the In N Out driveway to Lindero from approximately 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
  • The northerly intersection of Lindero-Russell Ranch Road will also be affected, as traffic is stopped to allow funeral traffic to leave the area following the graveside service.

Helus, who'd been with the Sheriff's Department for 29 years, was killed when he ran into the bar last Wednesday night to confront the gunman who also massacred 11 other people inside.

The body of a veteran sheriff's sergeant fatally shot while responding to a Southern California mass shooting was taken in a procession from a hospital to a coroner's office on Thursday.

A law enforcement motorcade provided an escort Thursday as the body of Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus is driven about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from a hospital in Thousand Oaks to a coroner's facility in the city of Ventura.

Firefighters are honoring Helus with a giant U.S. flag raised by two ladder trucks over the route. People were lining streets as the hearse passes.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean says Helus was shot several times in an exchange of gunfire with a man who attacked the Borderline Bar and Grill late Wednesday during a country music dance night popular with college students.

Eleven other people were killed and the gunman is believed to have taken his own life.

KNX reporter Craig Fiegener:

Helus will be transported via motorcade from Los Robles Hospital to westbound Janss Road, the sheriff's department said.  From there, the motorcade will travel southbound on Lynn Road to the 101 northbound to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office in the city of Ventura.  Expect traffic delays as a result. 

A sheriff said the sergeant was killed when a gunman fatally shot 12 people inside the crowded Southern California bar "died a hero." Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran, was among the first officers to respond to the scene and was shot after he entered the building.

A California Highway Patrol officer who entered with Helus retreated, secured the perimeter, then pulled Helus out of the line of fire, CBS Los Angeles reported.    

Helus, who died at a hospital early Thursday, is survived by his wife and son. Authorities said he was about a year from retirement.

"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff's sergeant, he was totally committed. He gave his all. And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people's lives," Dean said. 

Dean added that he and Helus were good friends and they regularly worked out together.

The gunman was found dead at the scene. Authorities did not say how he died.

Dean said around 10 other people were shot and wounded. No other information on the victims was immediately known.

When the gunman entered, people screamed and fled to all corners of the bar, while a few people threw barstools through the windows and helped dozens to escape, witnesses said. 

Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said the first reports of shots fired came around 11:20 p.m. The Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks is about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

The bar's website says its hosts "College Country Night" every Wednesday. Police said hundreds were inside when the shooting occurred.

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