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Erika Holt
November 9, 2018

Sheriff's deputy speaks to a potential witness as they stand near the scene, November 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people.

A GUNMAN opened fire at a bar in California killing 12 people including a cop and injuring at least ten more today.

As shots were heard at a bar in a suburb of Thousands Oaks, California, a "hero" sheriff's sergeant responded by putting himself in the chaos to try to "save lives" but was shot by the gunman.

Helus, who lived in neighboring Moorpark with his wife and son, died at about 2 a.m.at a hospital.

Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean, describing Sgt. Helus, said: 'He went into save lives, to save other people.

"For many of us, it was seeing each others' faces in the bar again that brought us a huge sense of relief", she said in an interview with HuffPost.

At Borderline Bar and Grill, a country-western dance bar that is a popular venue for college students, the night took a turn when a gunman entered and opened fire.

Police said a highway patrol officer and another policeman, Sergeant Ron Helus, entered the bar after hearing gunshots. Others jumped over chairs and broke windows to get out.

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"They found 11 victims that had been killed", said Dean of the first response unit before detailing that the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, not including the gunman. Add Thousand Oaks Shooting as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Thousand Oaks Shooting news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Forensics officers scour the scene at the Borderline Bar & Grill after the shooting.

"We are consistently ranked one of the highest with respect to lowest crime rate per capita, we're proud of that", Thousand Oaks mayor, Andy Fox, told CNN.

Shootings of any kind are extremely rare in Thousand Oaks, a city of about 130,000 people about 40 miles west of Los Angeles, just across the county line.

Helus had been at the department for almost three decades, and was planning to retire within the next year, the sheriff said, choking back tears. The gunman, identified as a Marine veteran, was also found dead. One of them was Jason Coffman, father of a 22-year-old man who he learned was among those killed.

When deputies arrived at the scene three minutes after the first 911 call, shots were still being fired, Dean said. "I don't know if she is alive", he said.

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.

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