Photos: Thousands line streets in moving tribute to California cop who died trying to stop mass shooting

Thousands of people lined streets in California today and many others pulled over to honour fallen police officer Ron Helus, who was killed yesterday while trying to stop a mass shooting.

The veteran officer, who was described as never hesitating to run towards danger, was one of 12 people killed by a former Marine during a rampage at a country music dancehall in the suburban Los Angeles town of Thousand Oaks.

Authorities believe the gunman, Ian David Long, ultimately killed himself.

The solemn 40-kilometre procession for Mr Helus took place as his body was taken from the hospital to a coroner's office.

This undated photo provided by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department shows Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in a deadly shooting at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Ventura County Sheriff's Department via AP)
Sgt Ron Helus Source: Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Mr Helus, a sergeant with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, was talking to his wife when calls started coming in about a shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill.

"Hey, I got to go handle a call. I love you. I'll talk to you later," he told her, according to Sheriff Geoff Dean.

It was the last time she would talk to her husband.

Helus rushed toward the shooting and immediately exchanged fire with the shooter inside the bar, Mr Dean said. Mr Helus was hit multiple times and died at a hospital.

A law enforcement motorcade, providing an escort for a hearse carrying the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, makes its way northbound on Highway 101 Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Newbury Park, Calif. Helus was fatally shot while responding to a mass shooting at a country music bar in Southern California. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A law enforcement motorcade escorts the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt Ron Helus. Source: Associated Press

Sgt Eric Buschow, who said Mr Helus was a friend, described him as a "cop's cop."

"The fact that he was the first in the door doesn't surprise me at all," he said. "He's just one of those guys that wouldn't hesitate in a situation."

Mr Helus took up fly fishing a few years ago and loved pursuing the hobby in the Sierra Nevada mountains with his grown son, Mr Buschow said.

People look on from an overpass as a motorcade with the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus passes by Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Newbury Park, Calif. Helus was fatally shot while responding to a mass shooting at a country music bar in Southern California. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
People look on from an overpass as a motorcade with the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt Ron Helus passes by. Source: Associated Press

"He was just a great guy, a gentle soul," Mr Buschow said. "Patient. Calm no matter what. When you call 911, he's one of the guys you want showing up."

Mr Helus was on the SWAT team for much of his career and worked in narcotics and investigations, he said.

"If you were a victim of a crime, you want him investigating the case," Mr Buschow said. "He would go to the ends of the Earth to find a suspect."

Law enforcement and fire personnel salute from an overpass as a motorcade with the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus passes by Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Newbury Park, Calif. Helus was fatally shot while responding to a mass shooting at a country music bar in Southern California. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Law enforcement and fire personnel salute from an overpass as a motorcade with the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt Ron Helus passes by. Source: Associated Press

Mr Dean choked back tears talking about Mr Helus and called him a hero.

"He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price," he said.

A law enforcement motorcade escorts the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Ron Helus from the Los Robles Regional Medical Center Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., after a gunman opened fire Wednesday night inside a country music bar killing multiple people including Helus. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
A law enforcement motorcade escorts the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Department Sgt Ron Helus from the Los Robles Regional Medical Center. Source: Associated Press

A group of civilians, law enforcement and fire personnel, look on from an overpass as a motorcade with the body of Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus passes by Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Newbury Park, Calif. Helus was fatally shot while responding to a mass shooting at a country music bar in Southern California.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A group of civilians, law enforcement and fire personnel look on from an overpass as a motorcade with the body of Sgt Ron Helus passes by. Source: Associated Press