Nothing Prepared Sheriffs on Duty for the Horror of Borderline - NBC Southern California

Where the victims' families and survivors are a year after a Southern California tragedy.

Nothing Prepared Sheriffs on Duty for the Horror of Borderline

"You have a great playbook until the first shot's fired," former Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Incoming, Retiring Sheriffs Worked Together Through Tragedy

    Even with a combined 75 years in law enforcement, nothing could have prepared these two sheriffs for the Borderline shooting. Colleen Williams reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (Published Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019)

    The former sheriff of Ventura County, and the current sheriff whose first days on the job were spent dealing with the Borderline Bar mass shooting and the explosive Woolsey Fire, have a combined 75 years in law enforcement, but nothing prepared them for that evening in Thousand Oaks one year ago Thursday.

    "You have a great playbook until the first shot's fired," former Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

    Both agree, it was like a battle scene.

    "It was pandemonium," Sheriff Bill Ayub said.

    Family Remembers Son Killed in Borderline Shooting

    [LA] Family Remembers Son Killed in Borderline Shooting

    A mother and father remember their son who was killed in the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

    (Published Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019)

    The scene was all the more shocking because it was a neighborhood joint, and the night of Nov. 7, 2018, it was packed with young college-age patrons and several off-duty cops, all targeted by a lone gunman.

    Within minutes of the 911 calls, Sgt. Ron Helus with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department responded.

    "We went to the academy together and were SWAT members together for several years," Ayub said.

    Sgt. Helus, while wearing body armor, was struck by friendly fire and killed.

    A memorial in front of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department stands as a constant reminder of his sacrifice.

    "It hurts my heart we lost a good human being. We lost a father," Ayub said. "Ron was known as '4 Sam 3' for a number of years and what we decided to do after his passing was to retire that call sign."

    Almost immediately this single incident changed the way the department trained and operated.

    "We've increased the frequency and the realism of the training," Ayub said.

    Like many quiet tight-knit communities, the Borderline shooting forced the realization that it can happen here.

    "What do you tell somebody who loses their son or daughter to senseless violence? I know how you feel, and I have no idea how you feel. It's a hellish responsibility," Ayub said.

    But that's what the two were forced to do the week of Nov. 7.

    The change of command between retiring sheriff Dean and incoming sheriff Ayub, typically an exciting time in a law enforcement career, all of a sudden changed.

    Survivor Remembers Friends Lost in Borderline Shooting

    [LASTRINGER] Survivor Remembers Friends Lost in Borderline Shooting

    A survivor of the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting finds a unique way to remember friends lost in the mass shooting. Hetty Chang reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 4, 2019)

    Dean said the shooting made his final radio call all the more difficult to complete.

    "I don't know if I can talk about that without losing it," he said, choking back tears.

    The two said they will still not say the gunman's name.

    See more coverage of the anniversary of the Borderline Bar & Grill tragedy here

    Get the latest from NBC4 anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android