Manhunt Underway After Gunman Ambushes California Police Station and Shoots Deputy in the Head

Suspect Mason Lira

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Wednesday evening identified the man suspected of shooting a deputy in the head during a targeted “ambush” at a Paso Robles police station and killing a second victim hours later.

The sheriff’s office issued an update at around 9:30 p.m. that identified the shooting suspect as 26-year-old Mason James Lira, a transient from the Monterey area.

Authorities had released a pair of images of Lira Wednesday afternoon. He was described as a Hispanic male in his 20’s or 30’s, standing 5 foot 8 inches and weighing 150 to 160 lbs. with curly hair and a beard.

The 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. The sheriff’s office was not releasing his name but said he is a two-year veteran of the agency.

“He’s not out of the woods,” Parkinson said. “This is very serious.”

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