Paso Robles is a small city in California located about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Early Wednesday morning, a man drove by the Paso Robles police station and opened fire.
Sheriff Ian Parkinson and Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said the back of the building was struck several times, breaking at least one window, and causing damage to its brick structure. Several vehicles were also shot, they said.
A call went out for assistance to the CHP, Atascadero Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Office.
Two deputies responded to the police station on Park Street in a two-man patrol car at about 4 a.m. and began searching for a suspect.
At about 4:19 a.m., the deputies were outside their vehicle when they were met with gunfire from the suspect, Parkinson said. One deputy was struck by a bullet in the head or face, and his partner returned fire as a “brief” gunfight ensued.
The deputy was shot in the chin and was listed in critical but stable condition at the hospital. The police are describing this as an ambush with the suggestion that the initial burst of gunfire may have been intended to draw out a search party for the suspect to take shots at.
Police put out a shelter in place order for downtown Paso Robles which lasted for most of the day. After the search, police discovered the body of a 58-year-old man near an Amtrak station. The victim, who police believe may have been homeless, had been shot in the back of the head at close range. Police believe the same suspect is responsible for that murder as the attack on the police station.
The lock down of downtown Paso Robles ended a short time ago but police have not found or arrested the suspect. The photo above is one of several released by police of the suspect.
As for why this happened, we won’t know for certain until the suspect is caught but Sheriff Parkinson talked about anti-law enforcement sentiment at a press conference:
Parkinson said that because a suspect has not been identified, no motive has been established. But at a news conference Wednesday, Parkinson spoke at length about anti-law enforcement sentiment across the nation following the police killing of George Floyd.
Parkinson also cited recent shooting ambushes on police officers and deputies in Oakland and Santa Cruz as examples of violence against officers.
As the Sheriff indicated, this is one of several shootings of police officers in recent days. Last Saturday a man named Steven Carrillo led police to his house in a remote area and then attacked with guns and pipe bombs. One deputy was killed in the attack and another was shot but survived because the bullet hit his vest.
Carrillo was subdued after demanding car keys from a local homeowner. People who knew him said his posting on social media had become more political and anti-police lately. His last posting, just minutes before his attack on deputies, was an “anti-fascism” meme. Authorities are also investigating the possibility that Carrillo may also have been responsible for the murder of federal protective services officer David Underwood in Oakland a week earlier.
Additionally, a police officer named Shay Mikalonis was shot in the head during a George Floyd protest in Las Vegas. Today his family said that he is still in critical condition on a ventilator and that he may need the ventilator for the rest of his life.
Update: The suspect has been identified.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in Wednesday morning’s shooting in Paso Robles as Mason James Lira, 26.
He is reportedly a transient from the Monterey area.
He has not been apprehended yet. His Facebook page is still up at this hour and this guy pretty clearly seems to be mentally ill. From 2017:
My name is Mason Lira and I am offering a 5000 Dollar Reward to whoever can come forward with information regarding a place hidden in Pogonip Park. My friend James was murdered in the mid 90s by two men; Joe and Eric @ 931 High Street in Santa Cruz California.
His last name is not known. When I was 2-3 years old I was taken to Pogonip Park around midnight as my father and eric buried him in the woods. I only recently remembered. The location where he is buried is deep in pogonip park and very hard to find.
He also has a book for sale on Amazon.