Nov. 8 (UPI) — Law enforcement officials have yet to release the names of all 12 victims killed in a shooting Thursday at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., but some families and friends have identified their loved ones.
The only shooting victim police positively identified Thursday was Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the office and California Highway Patrol.
Helus was among the first law enforcement officers to respond to the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill when 911 calls first came in. He entered the bar and sustained multiple gunshot injuries. He died later at the hospital.
“Ron was a hardworking, dedicated sheriff’s sergeant. He was totally committed, he gave his all and tonight, as I told his wife, he died a hero. He went in to save lives, to save other people,” Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters during a news conference.
Alaina Housley’s aunt and uncle, actor Tamera Mowry-Housley and journalist Adam Housley, confirmed her death in the shooting in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“Alaina. My sweet, sweet Alaina. My heart breaks. I’m still in disbelief. It’s not fair how you were taken and how soon you were taken from us,” Mowry-Housley wrote on Instagram. “I was blessed to know you ever since you were 5. You stole my heart. I will miss our inside jokes, us serenading at the piano.
“Thank you for being patient with me learning how to braid your hair, and I will never forget our duet singing the national anthem at Napa’s soccer game. I love you. I love you. I love you. You are gonna make one gorgeous angel. My heart and prayers are with every victim of this tragedy.”
Alaina Housley attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
The United Methodist Church Westlake Village identified Noel Sparks as one of the victims.
“We grieve with Tony Sparks and Wendy Anderson,” the church said in a statement.
The church planned a prayer vigil for 7 p.m. Saturday “to remember all the victims and pray for the families that are affected by the shooting.”
Team Red, White & Blue, a veterans organization, confirmed the death of Marine Corps veteran Daniel Manrique who worked for the organization. He was a radio operator with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division and was deployed to the Middle East in 2007.
“Dan’s life was dedicated to serving others, during his military career and beyond,” John Pinter, executive director of Team RWB, said in a statement. “We offer our deepest condolences to the Manrique family and ask that our Eagles around the world join us in keeping all those impacted by this tragedy in your thoughts and prayers.”
California Lutheran University said recent graduate Justin Meek, 23, was among the dead. He worked at the bar as a promoter and sang at Disneyland.
“Although it hardly seems possible, we know that our sorrow will deepen as all of the facts emerge. The campus community mourns for all of the victims and for all of the families that have lost loved ones,” the school said.
Fernan Diamse, a friend also at the bar at the time of the shooting, said Meek helped lead others to safety before he was shot.
“He put himself in front of people. That’s the kind of person he was. He knew how to take care of people, coming from a military family,” Diamse told the San Bernardino Sun.
The father of 22-year-old Cody Coffman, Jason Coffman, was among a number of parents searching for their children early Thursday morning before police were able to start identifying the victims. Jason Coffman spoke to television reporters after learning of his death.
“I talked to him last night before he headed out the door,” he said. “First thing I said is, ‘please don’t drink and drive.’ Last thing I said is, ‘I love you.'”
Cody Coffman was preparing to join the Army and had two younger brothers and a baby sister on the way.