Sgt. Ron Helus, who died protecting others, remembered as a ‘hero’

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“Are you sure you’re not part bear?” asked Don Wem, one of Helus’ Facebook friends. “You seem to spend a lot of time at a river.”

Wem commented on the last photo Helus ever posted on the social-media site. It was Helus, in a fisherman’s hat, in a wood. The date stamp said July 3.

“As a matter of fact, I am part bear!” Helus replied. “I’ve probably had 200 bear and three mountain lion encounters. Bring em on! I love ’em!”

Helus’ profile is peppered with camping photos, of rivers, of glens, of deer — and, yes, of mountain lions.

“When we got together,” Horton said, “we’d talk about family and some of his fishing trips. He loved camping.”

Helus’ family didn’t want to comment Wednesday, requesting privacy; according to a deputy standing outside the family’s Moorpark house, Helus’ wife had been up since 1 a.m. and her relatives were trying to get her to sleep.

Many deputies, also, seemed reticent, preferring to share stories and their grief in private.

“It will help each other cope a little better with our loss,” Horton said.

But on Facebook, some friends and family memorialized him with posts. They remembered him as a mentor, as a good teacher, as a man who lived by a code.

“He is a hero,” Eric Selfridge, who identified himself as Helus’ brother-in-law, said in a post. “He lived and died under a code of honor and dedicated his life to training officers and to serving the community.

“Anyone who knows Ron is not surprised that he would be the first one in, not hesitating to act to protect lives,” Selfridge continued. “Today our family and our community has lost a great man.”

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Horton arrived at the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office two hours early.

At 10 a.m. Thursday,

It was 1989, and Sgt. Ron Helus was still in the academy.

The instructors there, in a dusty corner of Camarillo, would test recruits’ composure by ragging on them, ribbing them, trying to get them to laugh. If they cracked a smile — push-ups. It didn’t end there. With each rep, the jokes would continue.

For Helus, at the start of what would be a 29-year career, there was only one problem.

“He was quick to laugh,” said Scott Horton, who was in the academy with Helus. “He didn’t take himself too seriously.”

But, Horton added Thursday, “It was clear he’d be a good deputy.”

Helus, about a year away from retiring from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, died Wednesday night, Nov. 7, gunned down as he entered the Borderline Bar & Grill, a well-known watering hole in Thousand Oaks, to stop a shooter who’d ultimately kill 12 people and himself.

Newbury Park CA.. A motorcade on the 101 freeway of local law enforcement officers escort the hurst to fallen Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who died after entering the scene of a mass shooting during college night at a Thousand Oaks nightclub on Wednesday night Nov 8, 2018. The shooter David Long, 28-year-old is the shooter and among the 13 dead.
Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer

Newbury Park CA.. A motorcade on the 101 freeway of local law enforcement officers escort the hurst to fallen Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who died after entering the scene of a mass shooting during college night at a Thousand Oaks nightclub on Wednesday night Nov 8, 2018. The shooter David Long, 28-year-old is the shooter and among the 13 dead.
Photo by Gene Blevins/DailyNews/Contributing Photographer

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Friends hug outside Los Robles Medical Center in Thousands Oaks, California, paying tribute to Ventura Country Sheriff’s Sgt Ron Helus, killed in the shooting at the Borderline Bar in Thousands Oaks on November 08, 2018. – The gunman who killed 12 people in a crowded California country music bar has been identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a former Marine, the local sheriff said Thursday. The suspect, who was armed with a .45-caliber handgun, was found deceased at the Borderline Bar and Grill, the scene of the shooting in the city of Thousand Oaks northwest of downtown Los Angeles. (Photo by Apu Gomes / AFP) (Photo …read more

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