California Man Killed 1 Person, Injured 4 Law Enforcement Officers Before Being Shot To Death In Standoff

Mason James Lira led California authorities on a manhunt after shooting a deputy in the face.

Mason James Lira Pd

A California man accused of killing one person and injuring four law enforcement officers was shot to death by police in a standoff following a two-day manhunt. 

The situation began when Mason James Lira, a 26-year-old transient, allegedly opened fire on the Paso Robles Police Department building around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to a press release from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

"This was a planned ambush on the police department," San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said, according to NBC News. "He remained waiting for officers to arrive."

A patrol car with two sheriff's deputies arrived on-scene around 4 a.m. to assist, police said in a press release. The deputies began searching the area around the station in downtown Paso Robles.

Around 4:19 a.m., Lira apparently ambushed and opened fire on the responding deputies. Deputy Nicholas Dreyfus, 28, was shot once in the face by Lira, police said.

The second deputy returned fire on the suspect, then grabbed Dreyfus and carried him to a safer area to give him medical aid. As other officers rushed to the scene, firefighters arrived and took Dreyfus to a local hospital, where he was then airlifted to a trauma center. However, Lira managed to escape. 

Later that morning — around 7 a.m. Wednesday — police discovered an unnamed man dead on the railroad tracks at the Paso Robles train station. The victim was a homeless man, aged 58, who had been shot point blank in the back of the head, police told local news outlet KSBY News.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office alleged Lira was responsible for this killing, thought it wasn't clear if the homeless man was killed before or after Lira allegedly opened fire on the police station.

Parkinson claimed authorities nearly captured Lira on Wednesday night, but he was again able to elude authorities, NBC News reported.

On Thursday afternoon, authorities tracked down Lira at a riverbed in Paso Robles. As officers surrounded the area where they believed the suspect was hiding, Lira emerged and opened fire on law enforcement — injuring multiple officers, according to NBC News. 

During the Thursday standoff, Lira shot an Arroyo Grande Police Department SWAT officer, a California Highway Patrol officer, and a Kings County sheriff’s deputy, The New York Times reported. None of the officers were immediately identified.

“The suspect attempted to flee from the riverbed towards Highway 101 when he was shot by law enforcement officers,” the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said in a press release Thursday evening. Lira was pronounced dead at the scene and investigators say they found two handguns that were reported stolen in Lira's possession.

Authorities are still looking for a potential motive. 

Dreyfus, the injured deputy, has undergone surgery and is expected to recover, according to NBC. The other officers injured by Lira are in good condition at local hospitals, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said.

This wasn’t Lira’s first encounter with police. Last year, he made headlines after allegedly threatening a train conductor and other passengers while onboard an Amtrak in Oregon. A SWAT team was dispatched, and the train was delayed for five hours, KVAL-TV reported.

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