A sheriff’s sergeant was accidentally shot by a fellow police officer while responding to a mass shooting in a California bar, and he stumbled and fell through the chaos and was fatally shot when he stood up and tried to retreat, according to a prosecutor report that found both officers acted lawfully when they fired their weapons .
The report from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office provides the most detailed timeline of events to date for the massacre that unfolded on November 7, 2018, when Ian David Long attacked country music fans at Borderline Bar and Grill in the Thousand suburb of Los Angeles. Oaks, killing 11
Ventura County Sgt Ron Hellos responded with Long’s fire from inside the dark and smoke bar and was moving out of the front door when his feet were entangled in a rope and he fell to the ground, according to an investigation by the district attorney’s office.
California Highway Patrol officer, Todd Barrett, was already out and was shooting Long, who was still inside, when one of the shots struck Officer Hilos, who got up again and was outside the door. Helus was shot five times by Long. But the coroner determined shortly after the accident that the sergeant had been killed by a sixth bullet fired by Barrett that pierced his heart.
Investigators said Long, a veteran, took a tactical stance and waited for the officers. The 28-year-old gunman, who was not wounded by either officer, shot himself after an exchange of fire.
Barrett “sincerely and reasonably believed” that he and Helus, along with another responding officer, a patrol officer on the Lydia Espinosa Highway, faced an imminent threat of death or major physical injury when they responded to reports of the shooting at around 11:20 p.m. that Wednesday, he said the report.
Prosecutors concluded that Barrett and Hillus’ use of lethal force against Long was justified as a legal act of self-defense and the defense of others.
Additionally, the report found that Barrett’s accidental release of Hillus was justified, not criminal.
The report includes video edited from security footage and cameras worn by officers. Long is seen waiting in the back office of the bar and watching on video screens when Helos, Barrett and Espinosa arrive.
Prosecutors wrote, “In an extraordinarily heroic act due to the active threat they posed for a long time, Sergeant Hillus and Officer Barrett entered the border without knowing Long’s whereabouts, giving Long a major tactical advantage.”
On one occasion, beloved footage shows Long from behind leaning on a table at the entrance to the bar and shooting the officers. Prosecutors said he was injured by Hillus, but was still able to return fire while backing down. She was pronounced dead in the hospital.
Prosecutors wrote, “It is a testament to his training, character and valor, despite being shot in the heart, but he found strength and determination to continue protecting others and fighting until the end.”
Long was also seen lighting and throwing one of the many smoke grenades he threw into the club to obstruct what staff and patrons could see before he opened fire. He used a flashlight with a laser sight attached to his .45 semi-automatic pistol while firing.
He long ago began shooting patrons and staff within seconds of their arrival. Terrified revelers ran towards the doors, ducking under tables and huddled on top of each other in an attempt to dodge the shooting. Others ran for their lives through other exits or broke through windows and jumped from outside, injuring themselves during the flight.
According to the report, Long fired 61 shots within 20 minutes before committing suicide. He had 129 shots remaining.
The Prosecutor’s investigation is the first official report released on the shooting. Still under review by the mayor’s office on law enforcement response and in-depth investigation by homicide investigators into the incident.
Helos, a 29-year-old veteran, was on the verge of retirement when he was killed. His wife and son survived.