OU mourns loss of officer, former student who died a hero in California shooting
November 8, 2018
NORMAN, Oklahoma – The University of Oklahoma community is mourning the loss of one of its own after alumnus and Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus died a hero early Thursday. Helus was fatally shot during a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill Wednesday in Thousand Oaks, California. Twelve others were killed in the shooting.
Helus was a 2016 graduate of the OU Extended Campus Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership program.
OU Extended Campus Interim Dean and Associate Provost Martha Banz said she was shocked to hear the news of Helus’ passing. She remembers Helus as an excellent student who was devoted to making the world a better and safer place.
“It was my privilege to have Ron as a student in one of my courses back in 2016,” Banz said. “He was a ‘shining star’ student, one of the best and most responsible I’ve ever had.”
Banz said she and Helus stayed in touch after he graduated, and he planned to pursue doctoral work after he retired.
“Through all of his coursework, as well as through our interactions since, it was clear that he was a person of impeccable character and integrity—wise, compassionate, reflective and insightful,” she said.
Banz said through class, she learned that Ron had three favorite quotes: “It’s not about me,” “There’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend,” and “Live your life so that the fear of death never enters your heart.”
“Given those bedrock principles, I’m not at all surprised by his heroic actions, sacrificing his own life to save others. He loved his family and friends deeply, and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of loss his family is experiencing,” she said. “Ron’s life exemplifies the very best of what it means to be a Sooner, and as his OU family we honor the incredible legacy of his life.”