California shooting: what we know about the gunman

Dan Manrique

The sheriff's department and the wider community are mourning the "hero" officer today, who was one of the 12 people killed in the mass shooting in Southern California.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Thursday to honor fallen Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant Ron Helus, who was killed while responding to a mass shooting at a bar overnight.

The wounded police officer was taken to hospital, but later died of his injuries.

"He died tonight going in to try to save others and paid the ultimate sacrifice", Dean said.

At an earlier news conference Sheriff Dean's voice cracked as he spoke about Sgt. Helus, "He went in to save lives".

He said: "We will pray, begin to comfort one another in our grief, and hold the families, friends and loved ones of the victims in our hearts".

Police tell the Los Angeles Times that at least 30 shots were fired at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, which is about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

It was "college night" at the bar, and many students were there to learn the country two-step.

Dean said his officers had several interactions with Long, including an April call to his home.

The gunman was dressed in a black trench coat and wearing glasses when he walked into the bar filled with people enjoying a night of line dancing.


When Long 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.

ABC Reporter Marc Brown said: "We are hearing that some of the people who were at Borderline, were also at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, scene of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history".

The sheriff also said there were six off-duty police officers from various agencies at the Borderline at the time of the attack.

"You just don't expect it to happen in Thousand Oaks". Dean says Helus was his longtime friend and gym partner and planned to retire soon after 29 years with the force. He was later found dead at or near an office in the business.

Mr Coffman told reporters that his son - who had two younger brothers, aged eight and six - had been planning to join the military and was also looking forward to the arrival of a baby sister later this month.

"It's my understanding they went in and neutralized the shooter (and) they identified a number of causalities".

"He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price", he said.

"Within a split second, everybody yelled 'get down, ' " she said.

Helus was one of the first on the scene and was struck multiple times when he went through the front door, the sheriff's office said.

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