12-7-18 Update on Borderline Bar Shooting Investigation- Sheriff’s Deputy Killed by “Friendly Fire”

By George Miller

The Sheriff’s office held another press conference today, December 7, to brief on the investigations of the November 7 Borderline Bar & Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks. In addition, a Citizens Journal reporter interviewed Sheriff’s Deputy and Information Officer Sgt. Eric Buschow.

The big, bad news is that Sheriff’s Deputy/Sgt. Ron Helus was actually tragically killed by friendly fire from the CHP officer who accompanied him into the hellish firefight in the smoke bomb-filled bar. The good news is that they are both heroes and likely saved more lives in their daring attack.

A troubled Newbury Park resident and former US Marine entered the establishment late evening of November 7, killing 12 then committing suicide. He used a semiautomatic pistol with a laser sight and smoke bombs in his attack.

Only minutes after the attack commenced, an armed Sheriff’s deputy (the late Sgt. Helus and a CHP Officer entered the bar and opened fire on the suspect, after he fired first, according to officials present at the conference.

The press conferences have revealed that there were eight off-duty unarmed officers there from various jurisdictions at the time the shooting started, including the Sheriff’s office and Oxnard Police Dept.

Sheriff and information Officer Sgt. Eric Buschow told us, in answer to telephone questions, that to his knowledge, none of them were armed and that no others present  they know of were armed. He added that even if they were, it might be difficult to get an opportunity to intervene, depending on timing, positioning and other factors. Press releases have previously disclosed that some officers helped to evacuate Borderlines patrons present.

Sheriff Ayub said: The sequence of events that night is still being analyzed. Sgt Helus and the CHP Officer went into what can only be described as a combat situation. Many lives were saved that night in horrific conditions. The perpetrator murdered 12 and injured 22 others. He went there with a plan and a purpose and that was to take innocent lives.

Ayub added that info shared here in no way diminishes heroic actions of those men. (Keep in mind that many other law enforcement agencies had far more conservative policies on how, when, even if, to intervene. For example, the FL Parkland shooting officers allegedly stayed outside until massive reinforcements arrived.)

Medical examiner Dr. Thomas: Sheriffs Deputy Sgt. Helus was struck by 6 bullets. Five were similar and compatible with bullets fired by the shooter. These were likely not fatal. Another bullet was recovered in surgery- a rifle round fired by CHP officer struck Sgt Helus’ chest and stopped his heart.

L.D. Maples, Chief with California Highway Patrol’s Coastal Division: Sgt. Helus and the CHP officer bravely entered the bar and prevented further deaths. Tragically, during the gunfight, the CHP officer struck Sgt. Helus with a fatal round. The CHP Officer is not currently on duty.

Q&A highlights

Q: No wounds of victims from law enforcement officers?

A: No (except Sgt Helus).

Q: Sgt wearing vest?

A: Yes, Some rounds struck near edge of vest

Q: Several off-duty officers there, unarmed. Should they have been armed?

A: I don’t think it’s true. Officers not compelled to be armed, carries a lot of decisions required.

Q: Some officers precluded from carrying in drinking establishments?

A: Discouraged.

Q: Joint training on active shooters?

A: (Ayub) All trained in rapid deployment, active shooter situations., Not aware if Sheriff and CHP trained together. Many agencies were involved in this incident.

Q: Was it an accidental discharge by CHP officer?

A (Ayub) Not sure- investigating. It all happened over just a few seconds. Will share when we know.

Q: AR style rifle used by officers?

A; Yes. 5.56mm (NATO rounds).

Q: Can it penetrate vest?

A; Yes.

Q: How far away was CHP from Sgt Helus when fired?

A; Don’t know.

Q: What type of body armor used in such situations?

A: (Ayaub) All deputies wear body armor on patrol. Some buy a higher grade. Most body armor worn by law enforcement is not capable of stopping rifle ammo- comfort, mobility concerns.

Q: Surveillance video?

A: Will not release now. Available from  a number of sources

Q: How long CHP officer on force?

A; 9 years.

Q: What active shooter response training required?

A Just a tragic detail that it unfolded so rapidly, in my view, unavoidable. ambushed almost immediately on entry. Retreated, tried to take him out. (He portrayed it as inevitable)

Q: Sequence of events?

A: Suspect fired first. Still investigating.

Q: Did Sgt Helus have similar rifle? 

A; Yes.

Q: How did Helus and CHP come to work together on their attack on suspect?

A: Helus dispatched to Borderlines, joined with CHP Officer. They decided to enter bar together, nearly simultaneously

Medical examiner would not release some data and would not say why.

Another report will be made available to Sheriff and CHP.

Q: Law enforcement officers were trained to engage active shooter. Was this outcome inevitable?

A For years, LE has received rapid response training.


Watch Press Conference Video: https://www.facebook.com/VenturaCountySheriff/videos/365474034219988/


This reporter also asked Sgt. Buschow to comment on a press release by would-be Sheriff’s candidate Bruce Boyer, who was disqualified by County Clerk/Registrar mark Lunn on eligibility grounds, but is appealing it in county (several articles on that in this publication).

Citizens Journal refused to publish that press release because of severly unsubstantiated conclusions/allegations. Boyer also posted it on the Ventura County Sheriff’s Official Facebook page, Second Amendment Ventura County Facebook page and elsewhere.

In the press release, he maintains that there were eight off-duty and two on duty officers present at the bar at the time of the shooter’s attack, that they were likely all armed and fled like cowards.  The Sheriff said that there were eight unarmed officers there. At the 11-13-18 Oxnard City Council meeting, Police Chief Scott Whitney told us us that there were two on-duty Oxnard PD officers at Borderline during the attack. Boyer provided video of that. Whitney told me yesterday that he misspoke, was later corrected by City Manager Alex Nguyen at that meeting and that he confirmed it.

Sgt. Buschow strongly disagreed with every point cited above, telling us that:

  1. The two Oxnard officers were off-duty there on their own time.
  2. There were eight off-duty officers present and no on-duty officers.
  3. None of the officers present were armed that he knew of. We asked him for a stronger statement, but he said he isn’t close to the investigation, hundreds of interviews, etc. This seems like something he should be more certain of if he is the information officer.
  4. It is optional for off-duty officers to be armed and it is discouraged in drinking situations like this.
  5. Some officers are shown on news videos without shirts, helping people escape.
  6. Boyer’s conclusions are drawn on his own, without facts, without law enforcement info, lacking insights as to what actually happened.  The officers are not “cowards”- that is just ridiculous.  But, Boyer is entitled to his own opinions,


Previous articles:

VC Sheriff’s Office Provides Updates on Borderline Bar Shooting

VC Sheriff’s Office Provides Updates on Borderline Bar Shooting.   By Tim Pompey The recent mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, in which 28-year-old Newbury Park resident Ian David Long entered the Borderline Bar and Grill and began firing a handgun, was described by Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub as a scene where “confusion and chaos can only begin to adequately describe the situation.” […]

Update to Borderline Bar & Grill Shooting

Update to Borderline Bar & Grill ShootingThe Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are conducting an extensive investigation into the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting that occurred on November 7, 2018. Continuing efforts are being made to identify everyone who was at the location when the incident occurred. With that in mind, investigators are requesting that anyone […]

Click for MORE



Borderline Gunman Used Smoke Grenades to Create Chaos, Waited to Ambush Police; Motive Still Unclear

Thousand Oaks Shooting: Investigation Reveals Sgt. Ron Helus Was Struck in Heart by Friendly Fire

Slain Sgt. Ron Helus Proposed to Wife at Thousand Oaks Restaurant That Decades Later Became Scene of Borderline Bar Mass Shooting


Ventura Sgt. Ron Helus Killed In Borderline … – CBS Los Angeles



George Miller is Publisher of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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William Hicks
William Hicks
2 years ago

Well, the term “Friendly Fire” may not be an acceptable term to some, but it is a term that has been used to identify the source of wounds from enemy fire and accidental deaths/injuries from your own team for over 50 years.

Another point that must be made is that…..if not for the shooter, this accidental death wouldn’t have happened.

c e voigtsberger
c e voigtsberger
2 years ago

Please don’t call it friendly fire. No fire is friendly. Call it blue on blue shooting. Any round launched is dangerous to anyone in the vicinity until it finally is at rest. A ricochet, a through and through penetration can present as much danger to bystanders as a direct shot.