A police officer arrests a woman as protests over the death of George Floyd continued. AP
A California sheriff's deputy was shot in the head but survived an "ambush” by a gunman intent on harming or killing police and authorities said Wednesday they were investigating whether there was a connection to two recent deadly attacks on officers.
Authorities were looking for Mason James Lira, 26, a transient from the Monterey area of the Central Coast, and he was considered armed and dangerous, the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office said in an announcement late Wednesday night.
After wounding the San Luis Obispo County deputy in the small city of Paso Robles, police believe the shooter killed a transient and then eluded an intense manhunt. Police sought the public's help and released photos from surveillance video showing the suspect — a young dark-haired, bearded man.
The shooter opened fire around 3:45am on the back side of the police station in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said. Officers were inside at the time and windows and a door were shot out but no one was injured.
A dispatcher monitoring security cameras saw the attack unfold and called for help.The deputy was struck while responding and his partner dragged him to safety and returned fire, Parkinson said. The wounded deputy was in serious but stable condition with a bullet lodged in his head, he said.
While searching for the suspect investigators found the body of a man near railroad tracks several blocks away. The 58-year-old, unidentified transient was shot once at close range in the back of the head, police said.
Paso Robles is an unlikely spot for such violence. The bustling community 175 miles (282 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles is a tourist destination and centerpiece of the wine industry on California's Central Coast.
Parkinson said there was no local event or imminent arrest that might have prompted the violence. He also said investigators didn’t know if the attack was connected to anger swelling nationwide at police over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis officers. He called Floyd’s death unjust and horrific.
"You see what’s happening nationally, you see the riots, you see the looting, you see the acts of violence occurring ... there’s naturally fear as a result of that," he said. "So trying to calm the community has been our goal."Associated Press
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