Twelve people were killed, including an officer, after a gunman opened fire at a Thousand Oaks, California, bar Wednesday officials said.
Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus died responding to the incident at Borderline Bar & Grill, Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters. A 29-year veteran of the force, he had been looking to retire in the "next year or so," Dean said.
"Ron was a hardworking dedicated sheriff's sergeant," he added, his voice cracking with emotion. "He was totally committed, he gave his all and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero; he went into save lives, to save other people."
The suspect, dressed in black, forced his way into the bar known for its country, swing and salsa dancing nights late Wednesday. Witnesses said he tossed smoke grenade and then opened fire on the crowd, according to ABC News.
"The gunman was throwing smoke grenades all over the place," a witness told local station KABC. "I saw him point to the back of the cash register ... and he just kept firing. I ran out the front door."
The bar is close to California Lutheran University, and is popular among students at that school.
Authorities said early Thursday that they were still working to determine a motive in the shooting. The gunman, who has not been identified, was found dead inside the bar.
Further details were not immediately available.
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