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Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant Who Died In Borderline Shooting Was Killed By Friendly Fire

Police officer's badge with mourning strip, in front of the Borderline Bar and Grill's parking lot in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 9, 2018. (Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images)
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The bullet that killed Ventura County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus as he confronted the gunman in a mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar was fired by a California Highway Patrol officer who responded with him, authorities said Friday.

Helus and the CHP officer, who has not been identified, were the first on the scene of the mass shooting that took place Nov. 7. Both entered the bar and exchanged gunfire with the shooter, later identified as Ian David Long.

During the gunfight, Long shot Helus five times.

"These bullets caused serious injuries, but potentially survivable injuries," said Dr. Christopher Young, Ventura County's chief medical examiner.

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Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said Friday it was a sixth shot, fired by the CHP officer, that killed Helus.

"Tragically, that bullet struck vital organs and was fatal," Ayub said in a morning news conference.

Sgt. Ron Helus was killed while responding to a mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (Courtesy Ventura County Sheriff's Department)

Young said the bullet was fired from the CHP officer's rifle and struck Helus in the heart. Young would not say if the shot was fired from behind or in front of Helus.

Authorities said it wasn't clear in the initial shooting investigation that the round was friendly fire, but additional forensic analysis from the FBI's crime lab determined the bullet came from the CHP officer's weapon and entered near the edge of Helus' protective vest.

Yesterday, CHP Coastal Division Chief LD Maples delivered the news to his officer, who remains off-duty.

"He's devastated," Maples said, describing the officer as a "consumate professional" and a nine-year CHP veteran who previously served in the military.

The FBI's findings have been released to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department and the CHP, but are not yet publicly available.

KPCC/LAist previously combed through publicly available dispatch tape from the night of the shooting to better understand the chaotic scene and response that night.

In all, 13 people died that night, including Long, who authorities said took his own life.

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It took about 15 minutes after the first report Helus had been shot for authorities to pull him from the building, and another 21 minutes before authorities announced they were re-entering.


3:40 p.m.: This article was updated to include Young's quote about the survivability of the gunman's shot.

This article was originally published at 11:30 a.m.

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