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Police Take Out Assassin After He Shoots 4 Cops, Kills Homeless Man

Paso Robles, CA – The gunman who shot a deputy in the face on Wednesday morning was fatally shot on Thursday night after he shot three more law enforcement officers as the manhunt for the would-be cop killer came to a close.

About 36 hours into the search for 26-year-old Mason James Lira on Thursday, officers from multiple agencies surrounded a section of riverbed where the shooter was believed to be hiding, NBC News reported.

Lira once again opened fire on officers, and struck an Arroyo Grande police officer in the calf.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters at a media briefing that after shooting the Arroyo Grande officer, he climbed up the embankment and shot a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer, NBC News reported.

The CHP officer was hit in his bullet-proof vest.

And when a Kings County sheriff’s deputy got out of an armored vehicle and went to rescue the CHP officer, Lira shot him in the leg above the knee, NBC News reported.

Lira was killed during the shootout that ensued.

He was found to be in possession of two stolen handguns and a box of ammunition when he was killed, according to NBC News. There was additional ammunition found in the crawl space underneath the theater where he was believed to have been staying.

All of the officers who were shot on Thursday night were expected to recover.

The gun battle was the finale of an intense manhunt that began at about 3:45 a.m. on Wednesday after Lira opened fire on the front of the Paso Robles police headquarters, NBC News reported.

Sheriff Parkinson called the incident “an unprovoked attack on local law enforcement,” KBAK reported.

He said the gunman shot at the building and at police vehicles parked outside.

The sheriff said gunfire shattered the window of the PD’s evidence room and struck a police vehicle, KBAK reported.

He said the gunman then waited for other law enforcement officers to respond to the scene to help the Paso Robles police, and ambushed them with the intent to harm or kill them.

A San Luis Obispo sheriff’s deputy who responded to the attack was shot, KBAK reported.

“One of my sheriff’s deputies who was responding to the aid of the Paso Robles Police Department was shot in the face by a suspect that was laying in ambush at the police department in downtown,” Sheriff Parkinson said, according to NBC News.

He said 28-year-old San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Dreyfus was airlifted to a trauma center, KMPH reported.

Deputy Dreyfus is married and has been with the sheriff’s department since October of 2018.

On Thursday, KMPH reported the deputy had undergone a successful surgery and was listed in “guarded condition.”

Police found another man fatally shot near the Amtrak station downtown shortly after the ambush, KBAK reported.

That victim, a 58-year-old homeless man, was shot in the back of the head execution-style. Police have not yet released his name.

Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said ballistics proved the two shootings were related, NBC News reported.

The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office told KMPH Lira has a history of misdemeanor criminal convictions in their county.

The charges against the gunman range from pleading guilty in 2015 to battery on a peace officer to, most recently, failure to appear on charges of returning to a school campus in 2019.

In August of 2019 in Oregon, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office said Lira caused an Amtrak train to be stopped for five hours and the SWAT team to be called in after he made “concerning statements about weapons and threats to passengers and the conductor,” KVAL reported.

Jose Lira, the gunman’s father, told the Associated Press that his son suffered from mental illness and hadn’t taken his medication.

“He lives in a fantasy world,” Jose Lira said. “He doesn’t have a beef with the police.”

But Chief Lewis said police believed the shooter had been planning his ambush on law enforcement for days, the Associated Press reported.

“Every time that law enforcement got near to him, he engaged them in gunfire,” the chief said.

Lira was arrested in Monterey in May for making criminal threats and resisting arrest, the Associated Press reported.

Sheriff Parkinson said the gunman had been released from jail on June 3.

“He did want to shoot law enforcement,” the sheriff said.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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