Helus and a highway patrol officer exchanged gunfire with Long, he said, and the sergeant was shot "several times".
Helus was a 29-year veteran of the force with a wife and son and planned to retire in the coming year, said the sheriff, choking back tears.
"They found 11 victims that had been killed", said Dean of the first response unit before detailing that the death of Helus brought the toll to 12, not including the gunman. Officials believe Long took his own life. Other witnesses described people using bar stools to break windows and escape. "I just started hearing these big pops. Pop, pop, pop. There was probably three or four, I hit the ground", John Hedge told CNN affiliate KABC.
Kuredjian confirmed that a police officer was shot and had been taken to hospital.
Tayler Whitler, 19, said she was on the dance floor when she saw the gunman shooting and heard screams of "Get down!"
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Ian David Long, 28, apparently killed himself after the attack last night. "And that's what's really blowing my mind, it's a really safe area".
"There were people laying down everywhere", he said.
'At that point I grabbed as many people around me as I could and grabbed them down under the pool table we were closest to until he ran out of bullets for that magazine and had to reload, ' Wennerstrom added. Some jumped through windows while others hid in restrooms.
"It's a horrific scene in there", Dean told a news conference in the parking lot of the Borderline Bar & Grill. According to reports, Long used a.45 caliber handgun in the incident and was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside of the bar.
The bar is a popular meeting spot among students from nearby universities, some of whom don cowboy hats and boots on theme nights such as Wednesday's. The Western-style bar hosts theme nights such as country, salsa and swing dancing.
The bar's website says its hosts "College Country Night" every Wednesday.
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"I'm not gonna vilify this kid because he's got parents that are grieving, too", Mark Orfanos said.
He could not immediately provide information on the extent of the victims' injuries. He said responding deputies could hear gunshots as they arrived on scene. "I just wanted to get down as soon as I heard the first shot go off".
Ms Whittler said she didn't have time "to think about why this is happening", and just focused on a way to "get out". Then they began "shuffling as many people out as possible". "And the gunman started opening fire on the cashiers, the people working the cash register on the front desk". He said they seemed to know what to do.
"The University offers its deepest condolences and is praying for everyone involved in tonight's tragic events", it tweeted.
Thousand Oaks, California - once considered one of the safest cities in America - is grieving the loss of 12 people gunned down at a bar filled with college students. Thousand Oaks was considered the third-safest city in the USA this year, according to Niche, an online company that provides data on neighborhoods, companies and schools.
"We are consistently ranked one of the highest with respect to the lowest crime rate per capita, we're proud of that", Fox said.
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"We lost a hero", he said.