Ambush Suspect Is Killed After Wounding 3 Officers in a Standoff, Sheriff Says


A man who ambushed a sheriff’s deputy on Wednesday in Paso Robles, Calif., was killed on Thursday after a two-hour standoff during which three law enforcement officers were wounded when they surrounded him in a vineyard, the authorities said.

The gunman, identified by the authorities as Mason James Lira, had eluded officers for more than 24 hours and had been the subject of an extensive manhunt that included the F.B.I. and helicopters from several law enforcement agencies.

The standoff prompted a lockdown of the area, which is north of Los Angeles and is known for its verdant terrain and production of wines.

A spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County sheriff said that injuries to the three officers were not life-threatening.

“They had made commands for him to surrender, and instead he began to fire back at our officers and deputies, and they returned the fire and they found that he was unresponsive,” the spokesman, Tony Cipolla, said in an interview.

Mr. Lira, 26, was armed with several weapons that he had obtained illegally, said Mr. Cipolla, who was unable to say what type of firearms were involved in the standoff.

One of the wounded officers was a SWAT team member from a nearby community, the Arroyo Grande Police Department said.

The two other injured officers were a California Highway Patrol officer and a Kings County sheriff’s deputy, Mr. Cipolla said.

Mr. Lira shot and killed a man early Wednesday morning in Paso Robles before opening fire on two sheriff’s deputies, the authorities said.

One of the deputies, Nicholas Dreyfus, 28, had been hit in the face and was recovering from his injuries, the sheriff’s office said on Thursday. Mr. Cipolla said that Deputy Dreyfus, who joined the department in October 2018, was in guarded condition.

Wednesday’s attack, which happened outside the police station in Paso Robles, set off a manhunt for Mr. Lira, whose father said in an interview on Thursday while the standoff continued that his son had a history of mental illness, with diagnoses of schizophrenia and Asperger’s syndrome.

“My son is very dangerous,” Jose Lira said. “I slept with a gun in my bed last night because he’s threatened all of the family.”

The elder Mr. Lira, 68, who lives in Visalia, Calif., said that his son had recently been released from jail in Monterey, Calif.

“Our system here is just so messed up,” he said.

Mr. Lira said during the standoff that his son should surrender.

“Just give yourself up and come home,” he said. “But he hasn’t been Mason for a long, long time. We let go of him years ago. He is just a shell with psychotic ideas inside his mind.”

Mr. Cipolla, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s spokesman, said it was not immediately known if the younger Mr. Lira had been influenced by the recent protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd.

The standoff followed two other recent shootings of law enforcement officers in California. In late May, a federal law enforcement officer who had been working a security detail at a federal courthouse in Oakland was shot and killed during a protest. And earlier this month, a sheriff’s deputy was killed and two other officers were wounded near Santa Cruz when they were ambushed with gunfire and explosives.



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