A law enforcement officer who died while responding to a shooting at a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar was killed by friendly fire, the Ventura County sheriff announced Friday.
The gunman who opened fire at the Borderline Bar and Grill on Nov. 7 struck Sgt. Ron Helus, a veteran of the sheriff’s office, five times. The sixth bullet, fired by a California Highway Patrol officer, proved to be the fatal injury, though.
“Today, I’m deeply saddened to inform you that Sgt. Helus was also struck by a sixth bullet, which we now know, through forensic analysis by the FBI’s crime laboratory was fired from the CHP officer’s rifle,” Sheriff Bill Ayub said. “Tragically, it struck vital organs and was fatal.”
The bullets fired by gunman David Long “caused serious injuries but potentially survivable injuries,” Ventura County Chief Medical Examiner Christopher Young said. The sixth bullet struck Helus in the chest and caused damage to his heart.
“This is sad news and a tragedy, but ultimately, this was the most severe injury sustained,” Young said.
Officials did not reveal the identify of the CHP officer who fired the fatal bullet, but said the officer was informed Wednesday and took personal leave.
“He’s devastated,” L.D. Maples, chief of the CHP’s coastal division, said of the nine-year veteran.
The shooting left 12 victims and the shooter, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, dead.
Ayub said investigators have not determined a motive in the shooting.
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