A statewide manhunt is underway in California for a suspect who opened fire on a police station in San Luis Obispo County and shot a sheriff’s deputy in the face.
Authorities say that 26-year-old Mason James Lira began shooting outside the police department in downtown Paso Robles in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Officials say deputy who was shot in the altercation was transported to a hospital where he’s recovering. Hours later, authorities discovered the body of a deceased 58-year-old homeless man who was shot in the head. Authorities believe the crimes are related.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office described the attack as an “ambush.”
“This morning, we had an unprovoked attack on local law enforcement. And in my opinion, an act of a coward,” San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said during a press briefing Wednesday. “One of my sheriff’s deputies, who was responding to the Paso Robles Police Department, was shot in the face by the suspect that was laying in ambush at the police department.”
“Our thoughts are with his family and all local law enforcement in this county,” the sheriff added.
The sheriff’s office on Thursday named the injured deputy as 28-year-old Nicholas Dreyfus, who has served as a deputy in the county for two years and is assigned to the North County Sheriff’s Station in Templeton. Dreyfus was flown to a trauma center for treatment.”
“While searching for the suspect in the active shooter incident, Dreyfus was shot in the face,” a statement from the Sherriff’s Office explains. “He was transported to a local hospital and then flown to a trauma center out of the area where he underwent surgery for his injuries.”
Dreyfus’ surgery was successful and is listed in guarded condition while his prognosis is “good.”
“His wife and family members are with him as he recovers,” the statement reads.
According to Parkinson, the incident began at around 3:09 a.m. Wednesday, when staff inside the police department began hearing and observed through cameras, firing outside the police station. The officers responded to the incident and requested additional assistance from local law enforcement.
“The suspect began firing at police cars as they entered the downtown area, where the building was located,” the sheriff said. “Two of my deputies, who were driving in a two-person unit, arrived on scene at approximately 4 a.m. to assist the other officers that were being fired upon.”
“At approximately 4:19 a.m., the two deputies were searching the area in which the shooter was last seen. They were out of their vehicle and came under fire,” Parkinson explained.
After Dreyfus was shot, his partner moved him to a safer location until the fire department arrived to transport him to a nearby hospital.
According to The Associated Press, hundreds of police officers across the state have been searching for Lira since he fled the scene.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith