Christopher Weber, AP, June 11, 2020
A California sheriff’s deputy was shot in the head but survived an “ambush” by a gunman intent on harming or killing police and authorities said Wednesday they were investigating whether there was a connection to two recent deadly attacks on officers.
Authorities were looking for Mason James Lira, 26, a transient from the Monterey area of the Central Coast, and he was considered armed and dangerous, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office said in an announcement late Wednesday night.
After wounding the San Luis Obispo County deputy in the small city of Paso Robles, police believe the shooter killed a transient and then eluded an intense manhunt. Police sought the public’s help and released photos from surveillance video showing the suspect — a young dark-haired, bearded man.
The shooter opened fire around 3:45 a.m. on the back side of the police station in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said. Officers were inside at the time and windows and a door were shot out but no one was injured.
A dispatcher monitoring security cameras saw the attack unfold and called for help.
The violence came just five days after another unlikely location, the community of Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz County farther north on the California coast, was the scene of an ambush on police.
Santa Cruz sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and another deputy injured Saturday in an attack allegedly carried out by an Air Force sergeant armed with homemade bombs, an AR-15 rifle and other weapons. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said the suspect, Steven Carrillo, was intent on killing officers.
The FBI is investigating whether Carrillo, 32, has links to the killing of a federal security officer who was shot outside the U.S. courthouse in Oakland during a protest against police brutality on May 29.
The FBI also is assisting the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles departments with their investigation of the shooting that left the two-year deputy in serious condition.