Ventura County Sheriff’s Office remembers fallen colleague Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed after responding to calls of gunshots at California’s Borderline Bar & Grill.
A police officer who talked to his wife just before rushing into the bar to save lives and a 22-year-old set to join the Army were among the people killed inside a popular California bar Wednesday night.
At least 12 people were killed when a gunman walked into Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, threw smoke bombs and opened fire. The gunman, identified as a Marine veteran, was also found dead.
In addition to the dead, one other person was wounded by gunfire, and as many as 15 others suffered minor injuries from jumping out of second-floor windows or diving under tables, authorities said.
The attack on the bar – a college favorite that was hosting a country music event – was the nation's deadliest shooting since 17 students and teachers were killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school nine months ago. It also came less than two weeks after a gunman massacred 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Read on for a look at those who lost their lives in the horrific attack.
Sgt. Ron Helus was a 29-year veteran of the police force.
(Ventura County Sheriff’s Department via AP)
Before Ventura County Sheriff Ron Helus rushed into the bar, he called his wife.
“He said, ‘Hun, I got to go, I love you. I gotta go on a call,’” Sheriff Geoff Dean said.
Helus, a veteran of 29 years, and patrolman entered the bar after hearing gunshots. When they went through the front door, Helus was struck multiple times by gunfire. The patrolman rescued Helus from the line of gunfire and he was taken to a local hospital, where he died early Thursday.
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He is survived by his wife and son.
"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff sergeant," Dean said while holding back tears. "He was totally committed. He gave his all. And tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero because he went in to save lives. To save other people."
His colleague, Sgt. Julie Novak, told "FOX & Friends" Helus was "an amazing guy" who loved helping people.
"He probably should have retired a couple years ago, he could have, but he stayed on because he loved the fight," Novak said. "He loved helping people, he loved protecting people. He did exactly that tonight."
Jason Coffman displays a photo of his son Cody outside the Thousands Oaks Teene Center. He said the 22-year-old lost his life in the tragedy.
(Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
Cody Coffman had plans to join the Army, his father, Jason, told reporters Thursday. The 22-year-old was among those killed inside the bar, Jason confirmed.
An older brother, Cody Coffman was looking forward to the birth of a younger sister later this month, Jason said.
“I've been here fighting for him all morning long, and we did just get the news that he was one of [those] killed last night. His name was Cody Coffman, my first-born son,” an emotional Jason said.
Before getting the news of his death, his father said he was fearful his son “went toward the action” because he’s someone who would “run toward a bully to stand up for others.”
He said his last words to his son were not to drink and drive and that he loved him.
"Oh, Cody, I love you, son," Coffman sobbed.
The niece of actress Tamera Mowry-Housley and former Fox News correspondent Adam Housley was killed in the shooting. Alaina Housley was an 18-year-old freshman at Pepperdine University, a private Christian college.
"Our hearts are broken," the couple said in a joint statement. "We just learned that our niece Alaina was one of the victims of last night’s shooting at Borderline bar in Thousand Oaks. Alaina was an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her and we are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner. We thank everyone for your prayers and ask for privacy at this time."
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“She’s an amazing girl,” Adam Housley previously told the Los Angeles Times. “I know you always hear those things.”
California Luthern University graduate Justin Meek also died in the tragedy, the school confirmed in a statement.
The 23-year-old "heroically saved lives" during the shooting before his death, the school said.
Meek played baseball at Newbury Park High and is survived by his mother, a veteran, the Ventura County Star reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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