A sheriff said a sergeant who was killed when a gunman fatally shot 12 people inside a crowded Southern California bar "died a hero." Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran, was among the first officers to respond to the scene and was shot after he entered the building.

Related: 13 dead, including sheriff's deputy and gunman, in California bar shooting

Helus, who died at a hospital early Thursday, is said to be survived by his wife and son. Authorities said he was about a year from retirement.

"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," Dean said.

Authorities did not say how the gunman died.

Dean said around 10 other people were shot and wounded. No other information on the victims was immediately known.

Ventura County Sheriff's Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian said the first reports of shots fired came around 11:20 p.m. at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, which is about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

The bar's website says its hosts "College Country Night" every Wednesday. Police said hundreds were inside when the shooting occurred.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.