San Diego law enforcement agencies used social media Thursday to mourn the loss of innocent lives taken in the massacre at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, including that of a Ventura County sheriff’s sergeant.
“Our hearts are heavy for the families of the 12 killed and those injured this morning in #ThousandOaks,” tweeted San Diego Police Department Chief David Nieslit. “One of those killed was @VenturaSheriff Sgt. Ron Helus. Let us #neverforget the ultimate sacrifice he made running towards the sound of gunfire to save lives. #Hero.”
Both the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department sent their thoughts, prayers and condolences to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore released this statement on the heels of the tragedy:
"We stand with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, the people of Thousand Oaks, and all of those grieving today's tragedy. We honor the ultimate sacrifice of the hero Sgt. Ron Helus who, along with the other first responders, rushed in at their own great peril to save countless lives of people they did not even know,” said Gore.
The San Diego Deputy District Attorney’s Association also posted a message on Twitter offering condolences to all of the victims, survivors and families of the victims involved in the shooting.
The City of Vista said it would fly the U.S. flag at half-staff at all of its facilities through Saturday at sunset as a mark of respect for the victims of the mass shooting.
The shooting began at around 11:15 p.m. at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks during a “College Night” event filled with young patrons from nearby colleges such as Pepperdine, Moorpark and Cal State Channel Islands.
Authorities said a hooded gunman, now identified as former U.S. Marine Ian David Long, 28, entered the bar with his face partly covered and deployed a smoke device.
He then used a handgun to open fire on the crowd, killing 12 people, including Helus and Coronado native Justin Meek, before taking his own life.
Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said Helus died a hero. The 29-year veteran of the department was about a year away from retirement, Dean said.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Blood Bank said it had been flooded with calls from the public wanting to donate blood in honor of the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting.
To that end, the San Diego Blood Bank said people can donate blood in honor of those impacted by the shooting by scheduling an appointment here and mentioning the code “DSVF” at any donor center.