FBI joins intense manhunt for suspect who fired at police department

Mason James Lira, 26, remains at large. He is considered armed and dangerous.

June 11, 2020, 1:27 PM

A manhunt is intensifying in California for an armed man authorities say fired at the Paso Robles Police Department Wednesday, leaving one deputy injured.

The FBI, the California Highway Patrol and officers from Tulare County, Santa Barbara County and Kings County are helping Paso Robles police and San Luis Obispo County deputies in the "extensive" search Thursday.

Authorities asked residents to stay away from the riverbed in Paso Robles Thursday.

Around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday, shots were fired at the Paso Robles Police Department. When San Luis Obispo County deputies and California Highway Patrol officers responded, one deputy was shot, the sheriff's office said.

PHOTO: Law enforcement personnel patrol Spring Street in downtown Paso Robles, Calif., as law enforcement agencies responded to an early morning shooting in the Central Coast city after a sheriff's deputy was wounded, June 10, 2020.
Law enforcement personnel from several jurisdictions patrol Spring Street in downtown Paso Robles, Calif., as law enforcement agencies responded to an early morning shooting in the Central Coast city after a sheriff's deputy was wounded, June 10, 2020.
David Middlecamp/The Tribune of San Luis Obispo via AP

The deputy, who was shot in the face, was airlifted to a trauma center, the sheriff's office said. His prognosis is good, the sheriff's office said.

PHOTO: An armored vehicle patrols the streets of Paso Robles, California after a sheriff's deputy was wounded when someone opened fire on a police station, June 10, 2020.
An armored vehicle patrols the streets of Paso Robles, California after a sheriff's deputy was wounded when someone opened fire on a police station, June 10, 2020.
KSBY-TV via AP
PHOTO: A tactical vehicle is parked near 12th and Riverside Ave.nue in downtown Paso Robles, Calif., as law enforcement agencies responded to an early morning shooting in the Central Coast city after a sheriff's deputy was wounded, June 10, 2020.
A tactical vehicle is parked near 12th and Riverside Ave.nue in downtown Paso Robles, Calif., as law enforcement agencies responded to an early morning shooting in the Central Coast city after a sheriff's deputy was wounded, June 10, 2020.
David Middlecamp/The Tribune of San Luis Obispo via AP

Paso Robles police said the shooting stopped around 4 a.m. local time and officers launched a manhunt.

The suspect was identified Wednesday night as 26-year-old Mason James Lira, a transient from the Monterey area, police said.

PHOTO: Mason James Lira, 26, is seen in an undated mugshot.
Mason James Lira, 26, is seen in an undated mugshot.
SLO County Sheriff via Twitter

More shots were fired around 10:10 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said.

Lira remains at-large and police said he should be considered armed and dangerous.

PHOTO: Police have released this image of the suspect involved in the shooting at Paso Robles Police Department n Paso Robles, Calif., June 10, 2020.
Police have released this image of the suspect involved in the shooting at Paso Robles Police Department n Paso Robles, Calif., June 10, 2020.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office

The sheriff's office also said the body of a man who was shot in the head at close range was found near the Paso Robles Amtrak Station Wednesday morning. The victim killed was likely a transient who was camping out near the train tracks, authorities said.

"Investigators believe the homicide is related to the shooting incident this morning that is being investigated," the sheriff's office said. "If you have information please contact the Paso Robles Police Department."

PHOTO: Sheriff personnel searching area for evidence regarding fatally wounded gunshot victim found near railroad tracks in Paso Robles, Calif., June 10, 2020.
Sheriff personnel searching area for evidence regarding fatally wounded gunshot victim found near railroad tracks in Paso Robles, Calif., June 10, 2020.
Richard Bastian

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told ABC News he believes his deputies were targeted. Three law enforcement officers have been ambushed in California in recent weeks, including in Santa Cruz and Oakland.

"To be honest, it's difficult," Parkinson said. "It's a difficult thing when somebody accuses you of racism when you're not racist. I think it takes a lot of courage to continue to do the job in a very professional way."

The wounded deputy, 28-year old Nicholas Dreyfus, started with the sheriff's office in October 2018. His wife and family members are with him as he recovers, the sheriff's office said.

PHOTO: An undated photo of Nicholas Dreyfus, a deputy with the San Luis Obispo County sheriff's office.
An undated photo of Nicholas Dreyfus, a deputy with the San Luis Obispo County sheriff's office.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff

Dan Dow, San Luis Obispo County district attorney, tweeted, "Please keep the @SLOSheriff Deputy who was shot and all other deputies, and other local law enforcement officers in your prayers for safety. May they be protected as they continue to search for the shooter and may the shooter be apprehended and brought to justice."

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