PASO ROBLES (CBS SF) — Authorities in Paso Robles confirmed that the suspected gunman who shot a deputy and killed a second victim was killed and that three law enforcement officers sustained non-life threatening injuries during a shootout Thursday afternoon.
Paso Robles police tweeted that the suspect was down and several officers were wounded at 4:25 p.m.
Suspect down. Several officers wounded.
— Paso Robles Police (@PasoRoblesPD) June 11, 2020
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed that the injured officers were from the California Highway Patrol, the Arroyo Grande Police Department and Kings County Sheriff’s Office. The officers transported to local area hospitals are in good condition with non life threatening injuries.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Twitter account posted that there was only one suspect in the shooting and that no additional suspects were outstanding in the incident. There had been some unconfirmed reports that the suspect had an accomplice.
#PRactiveshooter Update 6/11/2020 at 5:30 PM
The Sheriff's Office has confirmed that there was only one suspect, no other suspects are outstanding.
— SLO County Sheriff (@SLOSheriff) June 12, 2020
An intense statewide manhunt has been underway since Wednesday for Mason James Lira, a transient who allegedly ambushed a San Luis Obispo County deputy and was wanted in the homicide of a homeless man.
Paso Robles police earlier tweeted about shots fired in the area of Highway 46 and Ramada Drive shortly after 2:15 p.m.
Shots fired in the area of 46W / Ramada. Stay out of area.
— Paso Robles Police (@PasoRoblesPD) June 11, 2020
Authorities locked down a two-mile radius on the southern end of Paso Robles near the Salinas River Thursday afternoon at around 2:10 p.m. as they closed in on Lira.
The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office received a report of an officer shot in the area of Ramada Drive and Volpi Ysabel Road. Law enforcement officers were stationed in this area as part of a containment team assigned to keep Lira from evading officers who were beginning a search of the riverbed.
The wounded officer was evacuated from the scene and transported to a local hospital for treatment. Additional law enforcement arrived at the scene to search for Lira, when the suspect opened fire on the officers, wounding two of them.
Those two officers were also evacuated to area hospitals for treatment. Officers continued their search for the suspect along the Salinas River when they encountered Lira, who had been hiding in the riverbed. He attempted to flee from the riverbed towards Highway 101 when he was shot by law enforcement officers.
Lira was pronounced deceased at the scene of the shooting. Officers found the suspect in possession of two handguns that are believed to have been stolen from a commercial burglary in the City of San Luis Obispo a few days before his shooting spree began early Wednesday morning.
His father told reporters Lira has a mental illnesses but refuses to take medication.
The sheriff’s office said a reverse 911 shelter-in-place message was issued for those within a two-mile radius of Volpi Ysabel Road in Paso Robles due to the gunfire and search.
There were reports that the suspect search had converged on a homeless encampment at a nearby riverbed on the southern end of Paso Robles near the border with the neighboring town of Templeton.
The entire town of Templeton was placed on lock down.
Lira had been spotted at a Chevron gas station in town early Thursday morning. Surveillance footage showed the suspect stopping by the gas station and purchasing an energy drink.
In addition to Paso Robles police and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies, law enforcement from neighboring cities, the CHP and the FBI also responded to Thursday’s incident.
Authorities released photos of the suspect Wednesday and asked Northern California residents, especially those in the Monterey area, to be on the lookout for Lira, who is considered armed and dangerous.
The original incident began when Lara opened fire on a police station in Paso Robles at around 3:45 a.m., said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson.
Staff on duty at the station at 900 Park Street observed the suspect outside their building who was armed with a firearm and began shooting at the police building. The police department requested assistance of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and CHP. The suspect began firing at patrol cars as they entered the downtown Paso Robles area.
At approximately 4:19 a.m., two deputies were searching the downtown area when they came under fire from the suspect. One of the deputies was shot in the face by the suspect. The deputy’s partner dragged him to safety and returned fire, Parkinson said. The bullet remains lodged in his head and he’s in serious condition, he said.
“We feel that this was an ambush; that he planned it, that he intended for officers to come out of the police department and to assault them,” said Parkinson.
Gunfire occurred over a span of some minutes, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla. Two sheriff’s deputies were fired upon when they arrived on the scene, wounding one. His partner returned fire, Cipolla said.
The deputy was airlifted to a trauma center out of the area. He has since been identified as Deputy Nicholas Dreyfus.
The sheriff’s office said the body of the second victim was discovered Wednesday morning in the vicinity of the Amtrak station at 8th Street and Pine Street in Paso Robles a few blocks from where the deputy was shot earlier.
Lewis said the unidentified victim was a 58-year-old male who appeared to be a homeless person sitting or sleeping near the tracks. Lewis said the man suffered a single gunshot to the back of the head.
An intense search for the gunman in downtown Paso Robles concluded without finding Lira, but downtown Paso Robles remained closed after that for the processing of evidence.
Officials said they believed it was a lone gunman.