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Charity event for slain officer put on hold amid pushback over invited Trump supporters: report

A charity event honoring a California police officer who was killed in a mass shooting last year has reportedly been put on hold amid controversy surrounding supporters of President Trump who were set to attend.

Fox 11 Los Angeles reports the charity flag football event in honor of slain Ventura County Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed during a mass shooting at a bar in 2018, was indefinitely postponed after a local police chief took issue with the guest list.

Sponsoring organizations pulled out of the event after Thousand Oaks Police Chief Tim Hagel said his department would no longer support it, Fox 11 reported. The city of Thousand Oaks contracts with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for police services, according to its website.

Hagel reportedly signaled he would withdraw from the event after learning that Trump supporter Scott Baio, who went to the same church as Helus, and Joy Villa, an open supporter of Trump, would be in attendance, with Villa set to sing the national anthem.

Mike Randall, vice president of the Fallen Officers Foundation, which had organized the charity football game, told Fox 11 that Hagel reached out to him and said the attendees would stir up local political issues.

“He basically said over and over in the conversation this is not Trump country, that the slogan ‘Make America Great’ is not favorable, popular, within 1,200 square miles, that we don’t want Republicans here, I could not believe it,” Randall told the outlet.

He added that Hagel told him “the only thing you [could have done to make] this worse, Mike, was to invite Dick Cheney and Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” referring to the former vice president and former White House press secretary, respectively.

The sheriff for Ventura County, where Helus served, issued a statement regarding the canceled event.

“The ‘Blue Bowl’ event was represented as a charitable flag football tournament to raise funds for the family of Sergeant Ron Helus. An event that would honor Ron’s memory and provide support to his wife Karen and son Jordan,” Sheriff Bill Ayub told the local news outlet in a statement.

“As the event began to materialize, we became concerned with the behavior of some of the organizers of the event. Although I believe the organizers had good intentions, the event was moving in a direction we no longer felt comfortable supporting,” he said.

Fox 11 noted that the guest list for the event had been bipartisan and included California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) public safety liaison.

The event scheduled for Sunday was reportedly in its latter stages of planning and had already raised thousands of dollars, though it is now being returned to the donors. A new date for the football game has not been scheduled.

The Hill has reached out to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the Fallen Officers Foundation for further comment. 

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