(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.) -- A California community is mourning a "hero" officer who was one of the 12 people killed in a mass shooting at a bar in Southern California Wednesday night.
Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department who was about to retire, is survived by his wife and his son.
"He was a great man," Capt. Garo Kuredjian, the force's public Information officer, told ABC News' Good Morning America Thursday. "He was a cop’s cop, and we miss him. We miss him already and we’re in mourning as an agency. We’re in mourning as a community."
There were hundreds of people packed inside Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks when a gunman burst inside throwing smoke grenades and firing dozens of rounds, witnesses and authorities said.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean held back tears as he remembered Helus during a press conference, ABC-owned station KABC-TV reported.
Helus was one of the first on the scene and was struck multiple times when he went through the front door, the sheriff's office said. Dean said Helus undoubtedly saved lives by going in to confront the gunman.
"Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff's sergeant," Dean said, according to KABC.
"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," Dean added.
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