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Ventura County Sheriff On Shooting


We are following breaking news out of California this morning. Thirteen people are dead after a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks. That includes the suspected gunman. On the line with me now is Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean. Sheriff, my condolences to you and your community.

GEOFF DEAN: Thank you, Noel.

KING: I understand that one of the people who was killed was a deputy, a member of your team. What can you tell us about him?

DEAN: Sergeant Ron Helus was a 54-year-old 29-year veteran of the sheriff's office. And sadly, tonight, he and a highway patrol officer risked their lives to go in. And what they found was an active shooter call. And as they started to enter into the bar/nightclub, shots rang out. And Sergeant Helus was struck multiple times. And he died later at the hospital.

KING: My condolences once again. It must be a very difficult time. Sheriff, I know people really want to know what happened there tonight - or last night. Excuse me. What can you tell us about what occurred?

DEAN: We're still trying to piece that together. We do know that the gunman approached the nightclub, which really - isn't really your typical nightclub. It's kind of a gathering place for local 18 to 25 year olds. They have different types of events every night - sometimes, country music. Sometimes, it's a comedy club. And we know he shot a security guard outside and went inside and continued to fire and killed 11 people inside.

KING: Our colleagues have pointed out, as you just did, that there were a lot of young people there last - yesterday evening. Do we know anything specifically about the victims? - who they are, their ages.

DEAN: We haven't identified any of the victims or notified any of their families.


DEAN: So we don't really know their names. I'll say just from my personal observations, they were probably ages from 19 to 25 years old.

KING: Oh, wow. Wow - so a young group of people. And do we know anything about the gunman himself? Do we know anything about his motive?

DEAN: No. We're working with our FBI partners to identify him. And certainly, we hope as the investigation continues, we identify the suspect, that we might be able to identify what motive he might have actually had for this horrific incident.

KING: So you'll be working with the FBI and other law enforcement throughout the day. Sheriff, lastly, what can you tell me about the community where this took place?

DEAN: Thousand Oaks is a pretty conservative, middle-class community. We have one of the lowest crime rates in the country. And while certainly, we have our share of crime, this is kind of a surprise and unexpected tragic occurrence, unfortunately. Socio-economics or crime rates really don't have that much of an impact on senseless acts like this.

KING: A very safe community, as one young woman told our colleague there this morning. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean - thank you so much, Sheriff.

DEAN: Thank you for your time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.