A look at some of the brave and selfless men who’ve risked their lives for others — some paying the ultimate price.
Inside the establishment, during a special over-18 country night, the shooter entered and chaos ensued. But because of the heroic actions of a handful of people, many lives were saved. One of those heroes was a local law enforcement officer who was one of the first on the scene. Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol, was killed shortly after he entered the building. Following his training, which encourages law enforcement to confront active shooters as soon as possible, Sgt. Helus went directly into the line of fire, in order to stop the shooter from inflicting more harm. Sheriff Geoff Dean, who called Sgt. Helus a good friend, said “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 because he went, he went in to save lives, to save other people’s lives.”
In the pandemonium, people started running for cover, but there wasn’t anywhere to go. So, one young man did what he could to save lives. Matt Wennerstrom said he recognized the sound of gunshots immediately. He told ABC news that “All I did was grab as many people as I could and pull them underneath the table until I heard a break in the shots, and then we got people out of there, as much as we could.” He and others used bar stools to break glass windows and stayed inside the venue as they pushed at least 30 people through the windows to safety outside. Wennerstrom continued, “I know where I’m going if I die, so I was not worried to sacrifice. So all I wanted to do was get as many people out of there as possible.”
There are other, unnamed heroes that put themselves in the line of fire. Teylor Whittler was at the club, celebrating her friend Nellie Wong’s 21st birthday. She told Good Morning America that when the shooter entered the bar, a group of people piled on top of each other and then knelt down in front of others, with their backs to the shooter. She said they were willing to “take a bullet for any single one of us.” Perhaps one of these men was Justin Meek, 23, who died at the scene. Multiple witnesses, and his family, have said that Meek was working to save others, and died because of his selflessness during the incident. Justin was a graduate of California Lutheran University and was a beloved member of the his community. The Coronado High School graduate was spoken highly of by all who remember him, including the Mayor of Coronado, Richard Bailey, who told mourners gathered at a vigil for Meek, “In what little spare time he had, he was a lifeguard here in Coronado, looking out for others. (It was) a theme that would last until the final minutes of his life.”
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