PASO ROBLES, California (KGPE) – A manhunt is underway in California as law enforcement continues to search for the gunman in the “ambush” shooting of a sheriff’s deputy and the fatal shooting of a homeless man.
The suspect was identified as 26-year-old Mason James Lira. He has dark hair and weighs about 160 pounds and is from the Monterey area. He is considered armed and dangerous.
Sheriff Ian Parkinson said a gunman shot at the police department just after 3 a.m. on Wednesday.
“We had an unprovoked attack on local law enforcement and, in my opinion, an act of a coward,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson said the suspect exchanged gunfire with deputies, one of whom was shot in the face. He said the suspect had been “laying in ambush” at the police department.
“The deputy was an absolute hero,” said Parkinson. “Even calling out that he had been shot on the radio.”
The deputy was taken to the hospital. He is in stable but serious condition. The suspect fled the scene.
Soon afterward, law enforcement reported finding the body of a 58-year-old homeless man near an Amtrak station. Investigators said he was fatally shot in the back of the head. Police say they believe the two shooting incidents are linked.
Parkinson said the animosity towards police in the past two weeks could be a factor in shootings.
“It is disappointing that these types of things are occurring all across the nation,” he said. “But when these things are happening in your own back yard and you have such an amazing county and amazing citizens in this county, it is even more disappointing. And even more troubling.”