The Thousand Oaks Victims: A Student, a Deputy, a Would-Be Soldier

The Thousand Oaks Victims: A Student, a Deputy, a Would-Be Soldier

California Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus killed in bar shooting, died a hero, made last call to wife

When a gunman opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Wednesday night, a chaotic scene unfolded. People ran. Some dropped to the dance floor. Some hid, others fled from the building.

Killed in the gunfire were 12 people, including a longtime sheriffs deputy who had rushed into the crowded bar to help and a 22-year-old patron whose friends said he had tried to help others escape, yelling Everyone, run! There was a college freshman who wanted to major in English literature, and a recent graduate who had collected his degree in criminal justice in May.

"The thoughts of every #NYPD member this morning are with the families & colleagues of all those killed or injured in the shooting inside a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar — 12 innocent lives taken, including the first Ventura County cop on the scene: Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran," New York Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said.

Sean Adler, 48, had been a coach with a high school wrestling team in Simi Valley, Calif., but had recently changed careers. This year he opened a coffee shop called Rivalry Roasters, realizing a long-held dream, one of his childhood friends said. He was also holding down a job as a bouncer at the Borderline Bar & Grill, Royal High Schools wrestling team said.

"I have thousands of hours of specialized training," he wrote." I work or have worked, the following assignments: Custody; patrol (Deputy, Senior Deputy, Sergeant); SWAT; all aspects of firearms, less lethal, and chemical agents instruction; investigations; narcotics; and wellness advisor."

Mr. Adlers death was confirmed on Thursday by his sister. Chris Curtis, the co-owner of Rivalry Roasters, said Mr. Adler had children and had been working at the bar to help pay the bills.

The California sheriff's sergeant first on the scene at Wednesday night's mass shooting heard gunfire booming inside the bar and instinctively ran into the crowded venue — where he "died a hero," one of 12 people killed by a former Marine who ended the massacre by committing suicide.

Danny Evans, one of Mr. Adlers childhood best friends, said that although he had not spoken to Mr. Adler recently, he recalled that in high school, his friend was the guy we all wanted to be: handsome, athletic and kind.

Helus' LinkedIn page showed he was an FBI certified firearms instructor and a POST — Peace Officer's Standards and Training — instructor. He earned a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma, and had planned to pursue a doctorate degree in the "near future."

And Sean was my protector, he continued, choking back tears. He stood up for me, and he showed me the kind of kindnesses I didnt get from other people. I needed that so badly at that time.

"California Highway Patrol was on scene within 3 minutes, with first officer to enter shot numerous times," the president said. "That Sheriff’s Sergeant died in the hospital. God bless all of the victims and families of the victims. Thank you to Law Enforcement."

Cody Coffman, of Camarillo, Calif., had just turned 22 and was planning to join the Army, said his father, Jason Coffman, who confirmed his sons death in an interview with reporters that aired on CNN.

The sheriff said it was only three minutes later that Helus made entry to the bar with two California highway patrol officers. The cops believed there were other victims still trapped in the bar, but as Helus entered the front door, he was struck "multiple times" by gunfire.

A friend, Sarah DeSon, 19, said she believed she survived the shooting because of Mr. Coffmans quick reaction. He was protecting everyone, Ms. DeSon said. He got up and he just yelled, Everyone, run!

Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus – who was nearing retirement in about a year — "gave it his all" but was shot multiple times by 28-year-old gunman Ian David Long and later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

Baseball was Mr. Coffmans passion. He played on his high school team and served as an umpire. He liked spending time with his younger siblings and often went fishing with his father.

The first reports of shots fired at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks came in around 11:20 p.m. on a night the packed bar was hosting a special "College Country Night" event. Dean said Helus made one last call before heading to the scene: to his wife.

I talked to him last night before he headed out the door, Jason Coffman said in the interview outside the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, where families had gathered to await information. First thing I said was, Please dont drink and drive. The last thing I said was, Son, I love you.

"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."

Members of the Ventura County Sheriffs Office said the death toll might have been higher if not for Sgt. Ron Helus. As the shooting unfolded, Sergeant Helus ran inside.

He went in to save lives, to save other people, Sheriff Geoff Dean said. Before entering the bar, the sheriff said, Sergeant Helus had a conversation with his wife on the phone.

Sergeant Buschow described Sergeant Helus as a true cops cop. In 29 years on the force, he worked in various departments, including narcotics and SWAT, his colleague remembered.

Helus was having a conversation with his wife on the phone at the time he got the call about the shooting, as he does several times during his the shift, according to Dean.

He had a natural instinct going after crooks, Sergeant Buschow said. He did it with enthusiasm and a great deal of intelligence.

Ventura County Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus was a 29-year veteran of the department, and was planning on pursuing his doctorate degree, according to his LinkedIn. (Facebook)

He loved being outdoors and fishing with his son in the Sierra Nevada. On his LinkedIn page, he said that in addition to his policing job, he owned a firearms safety training business called Gun Control.

"There's just no way to describe this," he said. "It saddens us all and it tears at our hearts and emotions as it should."

Expressing condolences for those who died in the shooting, Gov. Jerry Brown singled out Sergeant Helus, who he said took heroic action to save lives last night.

Ventura County Sheriffs Sgt. Ron Helus was looking to retire in the next year or so, according to Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. (Facebook.)

On Thursday morning, as Sergeant Heluss body was taken from a hospital to the county medical examiners office, members of the sheriffs office accompanied him in a solemn procession.

Ms. Housley, 18, of Napa, Calif., was a graduate of Vintage High School. She had written on Facebook that she planned to major in English literature. She also said she hoped to be accepted into a vocal music program.

Novaks said that Helus went into the building with "no idea" what to expect — only knowing he wanted to help those inside.

Photos on social media showed that she had been a member of her high school choir and performed in a production of Les Misérables. She was also involved in an organization, Helping to Introduce Opportunities, that donated soccer gear to young people in the developing world.

Sgt. Ron Helus was among the 12 people killed when a gunman opened fire inside Borderline Bar and Grill. (Ventura County Sheriffs Office)

Her uncle and aunt, Adam Housley and Tamera Mowry-Housley, confirmed her death in a statement issued by their representatives. On Twitter, Mr. Housley called her a beautiful soul.

Tyler Spady describes the terrifying moment the gunman aimed at the crowd he was in at Californias Borderline Bar & Grill.

After Pepperdines family and alumni weekend last month, Ms. Housley posted on Instagram finally got to see my parents — with two pink hearts.

"He said to her, 'I gotta go handle a call, I love you. I'll talk to you later,'" he told reporters.

Daniel Manrique was a Marine Corps veteran who never stopped working to support other men and women who had served in the United States military.

The California Highway Patrol officers that accompanied Helus into the bar ended up rescuing him when Long opened fire.

He worked as a program manager for Team RWB, a veterans support organization, which confirmed on Thursday that he had died at Borderline the night before.

“They knew they had to take action, and they went in and did what they had to do," Dean said.

In a statement, the organization added that Mr. Manrique had served as a radio operator with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and deployed to the Middle East in 2007 with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

In a series of tweets, President Trump praised Helus and the "great bravery shown by police."

Dans life was dedicated to serving others, during his military career and beyond, said John Pinter, the executive director of Team RWB.

In a profile on the organizations website, Mr. Manrique was described as an active member of the Los Angeles area community who enjoyed hiking, biking and photography.

On social media, he posted frequently about his activities, which included climbing a mountain to raise money for veterans, organizing a surfing trip for veterans with disabilities and going to countless sporting events. Mr. Manrique was an avid baseball fan who loved the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Justin Meek, 23, graduated from California Lutheran University in May with a degree in criminal justice.

His mother, Laura Lynn Meek, received a bachelors degree alongside her son that day, noted an article in a local paper, The Ventura County Star. She was a veteran who carried the American flag into the ceremony, the article said, while her son sang the national anthem in a quartet.

A spokeswoman for California Lutheran confirmed Mr. Meeks death. Other students were also at the bar, said the spokeswoman, Karin Grennan, and the school had heard from those who escaped unharmed.

Mr. Meeks Facebook cover photo showed him grinning widely, wearing overalls and a sleeveless plaid shirt, surrounded by other young people at Borderline, the bar where the shooting occurred. It was posted on Sept. 8.

The page described Mr. Meek as a performer with Goode Time Productions, a small company that produces services at weddings and parties.

Mr. Meek was also well known for the work he did for the community. As a caregiver with Channel Islands Social Services in Camarillo, Calif., he gave in-home support to families with children who had developmental disabilities.

Justin was an exceptionally kind and gifted young man who always went out of his way to help others, Sharon M. Francis, the chief executive of Channel Islands Social Services, said in a statement.

He went out of his way to provide personalized care, attend their family events, birthday parties, and ensure that every moment he provided with them was meaningful, and based on their childs interests.

Mr. Meek regularly shared ads for Borderlines College Country night. The day after the deadly shooting last year at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Mr. Meek had posted a photo of himself with the hashtag #PRAYFORVEGAS.

When a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas last year, Telemachus Orfanos somehow made it through.

He was killed last night at Borderline, Susan Orfanos, the mother of the 27-year-old, said in a phone interview on Thursday night. He made it though Las Vegas, he came home. And he didnt come home last night, and the two words I want you to write are: gun control. Right now — so that no one else goes through this. Can you do that? Can you do that for me? Gun control.

Noel Sparks had her hands in a little bit of everything at the church she grew up in with her family.

She was an all-around creative, said Nancy Moravec, the former director of Christian life at the United Methodist Church of Westlake Village, where she met Ms. Sparks when she was a child.

Over the years, Ms. Moravec said, she watched as Ms. Sparks got involved in just about every aspect of the church, from its youth program to the church camps she would later return to as a counselor. She sang in the choir, played the cello and danced.

The Rev. Walter C. Dilg Jr., the senior pastor of the church, confirmed in a telephone interview Thursday that Ms. Sparks died in the shooting. He said he had learned of her death from her parents, who are still members of the church.

Ms. Moravec, 74, described Ms. Sparks as loving, kind and generous. Ms. Moravec estimated that Ms. Sparks was now in her early 20s, and said she had been a student at Moorpark College.

Thomas Fuller, Julie Turkewitz, Matt Stevens, Jacey Fortin and Andrew R. Chow contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett and Jack Begg contributed research.

More news:

11-year-old boy with autism pens heartwarming letter to The Chases Anne Hegerty
11-year-old boy with autism pens heartwarming letter to The Chases Anne Hegerty
Cheryl hits back at abuse over X Factor performance
Cheryl hits back at abuse over X Factor performance
Italy Orders Seizure of Migrant Rescue Ship
Italy Orders Seizure of Migrant Rescue Ship
Airbnb to Remove Listings in Jewish West Bank Settlements
Airbnb to Remove Listings in Jewish West Bank Settlements
Michael Avenatti accused of smacking girlfriend, dragging her out of bed
Michael Avenatti accused of smacking girlfriend, dragging her out of bed
Cheryl defends X Factor performance: I did watch it and I loved it
Cheryl defends X Factor performance: I did watch it and I loved it
UEFA Nations League
UEFA Nations League
Talk about baste appeal — Trump pardons turkey named Peas
Talk about baste appeal — Trump pardons turkey named Peas
999 call of Grindr cheat moments after he killed wife with Tesco bag
999 call of Grindr cheat moments after he killed wife with Tesco bag
Actress Granted Domestic Violence Restraining Order Against Michael Avenatti
Actress Granted Domestic Violence Restraining Order Against Michael Avenatti
Donald Trump still faces Senate headaches despite a wider Republican majority
Donald Trump still faces Senate headaches despite a wider Republican majority
Nations League: Scotland v Israel – team news & build up
Nations League: Scotland v Israel – team news & build up