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Sheriff's Sergeant Among Those Killed In A Mass Shooting In California


Last night, a shooting left 13 people dead at a bar in Southern California. The police have identified the suspect as Ian David Long. He died at the scene. He was a 28-year-old military veteran. We don't know much about the other victims yet, but we do know that one of them was Sheriff's Sergeant Ron Helus. Earlier today, we talked to his colleague Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean.


GEOFF DEAN: Sergeant Ron Helus was a 54-year-old 29-year veteran of the sheriff's office. He and a highway patrol officer risked their lives to go into the bar - or nightclub. Shots rang out, and Sergeant Helus was struck multiple times, and he died later at the hospital.

KING: NPR's Nate Rott has been on the scene all morning.

Nate, what else do we know about Sergeant Helus?

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Well, like you heard there, he was one of the first people to run into the bar after the shooting started. He and a officer from the California Highway Patrol ran into the bar minutes after the first - the shooting began. Sheriff Dean, who we heard from earlier, says he actually called his wife before he did that. He was struck numerous times, and he died at the hospital shortly thereafter. You know, everybody that I've talked to in law enforcement here has just described him as a good guy, a hero. And it's particularly tragic because the sheriff said that Sergeant Helus was actually set to retire in the next year. He is survived by an adult son and his wife.

KING: Just a tough day there, Nate. You reported for us earlier this morning that there were actually a few law enforcement officers in the bar when this shooting happened.

ROTT: Yeah. We learned that in the last press conference. The sheriff actually told everyone that there were there were six off-duty police officers from various jurisdictions that were in the bar at the time of the shooting. And he said many of them acted heroically. He told a story of a parent that approached him earlier and said that one of those officers stepped out in front of their daughter to help protect her during the shooting.

KING: Nate, we know that there were people who were injured and survived. Do we have, yet, any numbers on how many and where those folks have been taken?

ROTT: We know there were more than a dozen people that were injured. They were taken to a couple of hospitals. We do not, at this time, know the extent of the injuries for some of those folks or whether any of them have been released. One thing that I do want to add about Sergeant Helus - at 10 here - so shortly, they're going to hold a processional to move his body from the hospital to the funeral home, which should be a touching moment for a lot of the law enforcement and first responder people here.

KING: NPR's Nate Rott on the scene of a shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Nate, thank you so much.

ROTT: Yeah, no problem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.
Noel King is a host of Morning Edition and Up First.

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