First Victims in Thousand Oaks Bar Shooting Identified as Sheriff’s Deputy and 22-Year-Old

Mahita Gajanan

The identities of the 12 people, including a sheriff’s deputy, who were killed after a gunman opened fire in a crowded bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif. late Wednesday are starting to be confirmed.

Ventura County sheriff Geoff Dean said Thursday that Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, died while confronting the gunman in Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, located about 40 miles north of Los Angeles.

While authorities have not named all 12 victims in the shooting, a father of one person who died identified his 22-year-old son as among those who were killed. Jason Coffman told reporters Thursday that his oldest son, Cody Coffman, was killed.

Here is what we know so far about the victims of the shooting:

Sgt. Ron Helus, 54

Ventura County Sheriff’s OfficeSergeant Ron Helus

Ron Helus, who had worked in law enforcement for 29 years, had planned to retire in the coming year, Dean said, noting that the two were friends who often worked out together. Helus was shot multiple times upon entering the bar and later died at a hospital.

Helus was on the phone with his wife when he got the call about the shooting incident. He told her, “I’ve got to go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later,” Dean said.

“He was totally committed,” Dean said. “He gave his all. Tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people.”

Helus is survived by a wife and son.

Cody Coffman, 22

The last words Jason Coffman told his son, Cody Coffman, were “I love you,” before he went to Borderline Bar and Grill. He’d just warned him not to drink and drive.

Coffman sobbed while recalling his relationship with his son to reporters Thursday. He said Cody will be remembered for his love for his younger siblings, including two brothers and a soon-to-be born sister, and that he loved working with kids.

“This is going to absolutely crush those two boys,” Coffman said in tears. “I just want him to know that he’s going to be missed. I am speechless and heartbroken.”

Coffman said he bonded with Cody over outdoor activities — he coached his son in baseball starting from age 3 and the two often went fishing together.

“He was my fishing buddy. I fish all the time and that poor boy would come with whether he liked it or not. That’s the stuff I’m truly going to miss,” he said.


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