THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — One was a veteran police officer who didn’t hesitate to run toward danger. Another had survived the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Others include two friends who loved off-roading, a Marine veteran who dedicated his life to service and a recent college graduate who worked with children with special needs.
They were among a dozen people killed in a shooting at a country music bar in suburban Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Authorities believe the gunman, Ian David Long, ultimately killed himself.
ALAINA HOUSLEY: ‘AN INCREDIBLE YOUNG WOMAN’
Alaina Housley was just 18, a promising student at Pepperdine University with plans to study law, her family said.
Adam Housley, a former Fox News correspondent, and Tamera Mowry-Housley, an actress known for the 1990s TV series “Sister Sister,” said their niece was killed at the bar where she had gone line dancing with friends.
“Alaina was an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her, and we are devastated that her life was cut short in this manner,” the couple said in a statement.
Alaina was bright, popular and well-loved, a student who had a 4.5 grade-point average since junior high school and earned college scholarships, said her grandfather, Art Housley.
She played soccer and tennis all through high school, studied piano and violin, and sang, he said.
“She’s a really good kid,” he said, fighting tears. “Everybody loves her.”
RON HELUS: ‘COP’S COP’
Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus was talking to his wife when calls started coming in about a shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill.
“Hey, I got to go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later,” he told her, according to Sheriff Geoff Dean.
It was the last time she would talk to her husband.
Helus rushed toward the shooting and immediately exchanged fire with the gunman, Dean said. Helus was hit multiple times.
Sgt. Eric Buschow, who said Helus was a friend, described him as a “cop’s cop.”
“The fact that he was the first in the door doesn’t surprise me at all,” he said. “He’s just one of those guys that wouldn’t hesitate in a situation.”
Helus took up fly fishing a few years ago and loved pursuing the hobby in the Sierra Nevada mountains with his grown son, Buschow said.
“He was just a great guy, a gentle soul,” Buschow said. “Patient. Calm no matter what. When you call 911, he’s one of the guys you want showing up.”
Helus was on the SWAT team for much of his career and worked in narcotics and investigations, he said.
“If you were a victim of a crime, you want him investigating the case,” Buschow said. “He would go to the ends of the Earth to find a suspect.”
Dean choked back tears talking about Helus and called him a hero.
“He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price,” he said.
CODY COFFMAN: ‘THE BIG BROTHER THAT MY KIDS NEED’
Cody Coffman, who had just turned 22, was talking with Army recruiters and preparing to fulfill his dream of serving his country, father Jason Coffman said, weeping.