Thousands warmly recall officer hailed as bar shooting hero

The sheriff's sergeant who gave his life saving others during a mass shooting last week was remembered warmly yesterday as a deeply religious man devoted to family who could be counted on to never hesitate a moment to put his own life on the line if it meant helping others.

Several thousand people, including hundreds of law enforcement officers from throughout California, packed the Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village for the emotional, 90-minute service honoring the life of Ron Helus.

The 54-year-old sheriff's sergeant was shot to death during a Nov. 7 gunfight with a man who was raking a popular Southern California country bar with bullets when Helus ran in to try to stop him.

The gunman killed 12 people before shooting himself to death. But authorities say Helus — the first officer into the bar — saved numerous others by immediately exchanging gunfire with the shooter, giving patrons and employees time to flee.

Among yesterday's mourners was musician Billy Ray Cyrus who said he told the family before the service, "I'm probably going to have to change the definition of hero. From now on it can just be a picture of Ron Helus."

Then, accompanying himself on guitar, Cyrus dedicated his song "Some Gave All" to Helus, singing the words, "Some stood through for the red, white and blue. And some had to fall. And if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties. And recall, some gave all."

Dawn Kamber