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Fallen Sergeant Ronald Helus, Ventura County Sheriff's Office, California

2018 State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Recipient

On November 7, 2018, a lone gunman entered the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and immediately began shooting employees and patrons inside the bar. Sergeant Ronald Helus, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, was not far away when he heard the radio call about a gunman actively shooting people inside the Borderline. He arrived at the scene within minutes and was swiftly joined by two California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers who had just cleared a traffic stop nearby. They could hear the sound of gunfire as they grabbed their rifles and approached the building. One of the highway patrol officers started tending to wounded patrons who had escaped the bar. Sergeant Helus and the other CHP officer approached the only entrance to the bar and entered the building.

Almost immediately after they entered the bar, they were met with a barrage of gunfire from the suspect who knew they were coming and had been waiting to ambush them. Sergeant Helus had entered first and was struck five times. Despite being wounded, he and the CHP officer returned fire. Then Sergeant Helus succumbed to his injuries, and it was later determined that a sixth and fatal wound resulted after return fire from the CHP officer. Thereafter, only one additional shot was fired by the suspect, and that was him taking his own life.

It became clear that Sergeant Helus’s actions to quickly enter and engage the suspect forced his attention away from shooting and killing more patrons inside the bar. Many people were able to escape during the confrontation. In addition to the 12 fatalities inside the bar, there were 21 people who suffered various injuries while fleeing the scene.

Sergeant Helus’s bravery, leadership, and swift actions undoubtedly saved many lives since there were more than 250 people inside the Borderline at the time of the shooting. The suspect was armed with a .45-caliber handgun and carried with him seven fully loaded 30-round magazines. When the scene was examined after the shooting, the suspect still had five fully loaded magazines that he had not used.

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