A central California sheriff’s deputy was shot in the head early Wednesday in an “ambush” attack by a gunman intent on harming or killing police, authorities said.
It follows two recent deadly shootings targeting officers in California.
The shooter on Wednesday, who has not been captured, opened fire around 3:45 a.m. PT on a police station in Paso Robles, said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson.
The deputy was struck while responding to the shooting and his partner dragged him to safety and returned fire, Parkinson said. The bullet remains lodged in his head and he’s in serious condition, he said.
“We feel that this was an ambush, that he planned it, that he intended for officers to come out of the police department and to assault them,” Parkinson said.
Body found nearby
Investigators later found the body of a man near railroad tracks several blocks away. He was shot at close range and the homicide is related to the other shooting, officials said.
An hours-long search of downtown Paso Robles ended without an arrest. Officials planned to release a sketch of the suspect.
The shooter, a man with dark hair in his 20s or 30s, fired at the Paso Robles Police Department around 3:45 a.m. PT while officers were inside, he said. Gunfire occurred over a span of some minutes, Cipolla said.
Two sheriff’s deputies were fired upon when they arrived on the scene, wounding one. His partner returned fire, said sheriff’s spokesperson Tony Cipolla.
The Paso Robles Police Department tweeted that shooting stopped by 4 a.m. Paso Robles, a city of about 32,000 residents, is set in the hills of California’s central coast wine region about 280 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles.
Another shooting Saturday
Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and another deputy was injured Saturday in the community of Ben Lomond in an attack allegedly carried out by an Air Force sergeant armed with homemade bombs, an AR-15 rifle and other weapons.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said the suspect, Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, was intent on killing officers.
Carrillo was wounded and was being treated for a non-life-threatening injury.
The FBI is investigating whether Carrillo, 32, has links to the killing of a federal security officer who was shot outside the U.S. courthouse in Oakland during a protest against police mistreatment of Black people on May 29.