Paso Robles shooting: Suspect shot to death after 2-day manhunt; 4 officers wounded

Authorities say that while evading officers over the course of the manhunt, Mason Lira hid in bushes and constantly moved from place to place, using 'military-style tactics'.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Police in the city of Paso Robles on California's Central Coast said 26-year-old Mason Lira is dead after shooting four law enforcement officers in the last few days, in what authorities described as a planned ambush.

Lira was killed Thursday by officers, bringing to end a massive two-day manhunt involving hundreds of law enforcement officers from different agencies.



The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said Lira first shot a homeless man to death on Wednesday and then over the course of that day and the next, wounded four officers.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a press conference on Thursday that while evading authorities during the manhunt, Lira hid in bushes and constantly moved from place to place, using 'military-style tactics'.

"He was prepared to move and act as though this was a fairly tactical ambush," said Sheriff Parkinson. "He remained waiting for officers to arrive, officers to come out. He shot them just like he shot my deputy... this was a planned ambush."



The series of shootouts began on Wednesday, when Lira allegedly opened fire at the Paso Robles Police headquarters.

Nicholas Dreyfus, a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputy, was shot in the head as he was responding to a call for help from dispatchers inside the police headquarters.

He was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.



That started the two-day manhunt, involving officers from different law enforcement agencies in San Luis Obispo, Kings, Tulare and Santa Barbara counties, along with the California Highway Patrol and the FBI.

Hours after the shooting, authorities found the body of a homeless man near the Paso Robles Amtrak station. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office believes Lira shot the man to death.

After hours of searching yielded no result, a clerk at a Chevron gas station in Paso Robles spotted Lira overnight on Thursday, according to ABC station KEYT-TV.

The clerk said he seemed nervous and was "sweating profusely," but did not show a weapon while inside.

A clerk at a Chevron gas station in Paso Robles spotted Lira overnight on Thursday, according to KEYT-TV.



Officers responding to the sighting at the Chevron began looking for him in a nearby riverbed where they suspected he was hiding. He was.

Eventually, after firing at and wounding three more officers, Lira tried to escape towards Highway 101 when he was shot by law enforcement, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office said.

Officers found two handguns in his possession that are believed to have been stolen in the city of San Luis Obispo a few days before the shooting.

One of the officers injured in the barrage of bullets is a deputy from Kings County, Blake Bursiaga.



Besides Deputy Bursiaga from Kings County and Deputy Dreyfus from San Luis Obispo County, the two other injured officers are with the California Highway Patrol and the Arroyo Grande Police Department.

All four are in hospital and are expected to recover.

Lira had ties to the Central Valley.

RELATED: Paso Robles shooting suspect was Valley native, had history of mental illness

Public court documents show he once lived in Fresno and Visalia. He had previous offenses in Tulare County, and two open cases, including assault and battery charges.

Lira's father, Jose Lira, told Action News his son has a history of mental illness and that he didn't take his medication. Lira had been in and out of hospitals and jail for most of his life.

Detectives said they will continue investigating the homicide and series of shootings.
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