A police vehicle blocks off a street in downtown Paso Robles.
A police vehicle blocks off a street in downtown Paso Robles on Wednesday after a San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputy and a homeless man was shot. Authorities were searching for a suspect, identified as Mason James Lira, 26. (David Middlecamp / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)
Mason James Lira

Mason James Lira (Surveillance photo)

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has released the name of the suspect in a two shootings Wednesday in Paso Robles.

According to a news release Wednesday night, the suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Mason James Lira, a homeless man from the Monterey area.

Lira allegedly opened fire on the Paso Robles police station at about 3:45 a.m.

A sheriff’s deputy who responded to the call was shot in the head, and later a homeless man was found killed near the Paso Robles train station.

Police believe both incidents are connected. 

Despite a widespread search around downtown Paso Robles for much of Wednesday, Lira remained at large, and is considered armed and dangerous, according to the news release. 

If a member of the public spots Lira, they are advised to not make contact with him and instead should call 911 and report his location to law enforcement.

According to police, at about 3:09 a.m., staff inside the city’s police station noticed a suspicious person outside on surveillance cameras who began shooting a gun at the building.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson and Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said the back of the building was struck several times, breaking at least one window, and causing damage to its brick structure. Several vehicles were also shot, they said.

A call went out for assistance to the CHP, Atascadero Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Office.

Two deputies responded to the police station on Park Street in a two-man patrol car at about 4 a.m. and began searching for the suspect.

At about 4:19 a.m., the deputies had exited their vehicle when they were met with gunfire from the suspect, Parkinson said.

One deputy was struck by a bullet in the head or face, and his partner returned fire as a “brief” gunfight ensued. 

Emergency personnel from the Paso Robles Fire Department assisted in evacuating the wounded deputy off the scene and to medical attention. 

An investigator searches for evidence in the shooting Wednesday of a sheriff’s deputy and a homeless man in Paso Robles.

An investigator searches for evidence in the shooting Wednesday of a sheriff’s deputy and a homeless man in Paso Robles. (David Middlecamp / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)

It was during the following search for the gunman that officers discovered the 58-year-old homeless man who had been shot in the back of the head north of the train station.

It’s unclear whether the man was killed before or after the suspect attacked the police station.

Parkinson said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the suspect who opened fire on deputies early in the morning did so in an unprovoked “ambush.”

“This was a direct attack on law enforcement,” Parkinson said. “We are going to catch this person.”

The two-year veteran of the department remains in serious but stable condition at a trauma center outside the county. The agency is not releasing his name.

“He’s not out of the woods,” Parkinson said. “This is very serious.”

Investigators examined five separate locations in the downtown Paso Robles area, which continues to be an active crime scene.

They include the location of the homicide north of the train station, the spot where the deputy was shot at 10th and Riverside, the nearby location where the suspect shot the deputy from, the Police Department and the DMV.

“We feel very confident the suspect is no longer in our area,” Lewis said at the news conference.

Kaytlyn Leslie is a reporter for the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Contact her at kleslie@thetribunenews.com.