It’s hard. In fact, it’s impossible to explain what led to the Borderline Bar and Grill attack a year ago. How do you make sense of the senseless? There were many heroes that night. People in the club broke out windows to help people escape, and carried injured friends and stranger to safety. But, while more than 200 people were trying to flee from danger, a Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant was intentionally running into it.
Sergeant Ron Helus and a CHP officer were the first law enforcement officers into the club. Helus died, but the appearance of the officers in the building prompted the gunman to kill himself, ending the carnage.
For his family, knowing he made a difference provides some comfort. Karen Helus is Ron’s widow. She says he knows that his first instinct would be to run towards the gunfire, and to try to save others. She feels he would be okay giving his life know that he saved lives.
Helus had been with the Sheriff’s office for nearly three decades, doing everything from patrol, and investigations, to being a member of the SWAT team. He joined the Sheriff’s office in 1989, and was nearing retirement when he died in the attack.
A three mile section of Highway 101 near the nightclub in Thousand Oaks has been dedicated to Helus, with signs placed on both the northbound and southbound sides of the freeway. Karen Helus thinks he would have been overwhelmed by the honor.
While the Borderline Bar and Grill was where Ron Helus was fatally wounded, Karen Helus says it doesn’t bring out the bad memories you might expect. Before the building was home to Borderline, there was a restaurant there. It’s where Ron proposed to Karen. And, it’s where that had their wedding reception. She says the good memories of the building outweigh the bad.
She says she talks to him all the time, and lets him know that he’s a hero, and that everyone loves, and misses him.