Mason James Lira was named by authorities as the California active shooting suspect who opened fire on the Paso Robles Police Department in an ambush-style attack, wounding a deputy. He was also accused in the murder of another “transient man” at a local train station. Lira was shot dead by law enforcement officers after shooting three more officers and being cornered in a riverbed, sheriff’s officials say.
The suspect was named as “Mason James Lira, 26, transient.” Lira initially remained at large on June 11, and authorities warned the community that he was armed and dangerous. The incident comes as unrest – and anger toward police – escalates nationally in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Police described him as a “Hispanic male adult, approximately 5′ 8″ tall, 150-160 pounds with dark curly hair and beard.”
“We feel this was an ambush. He planned it. He intended for officers to come out of the Police Department and to assault them,” said the San Luis Obipo County Sheriff in a news conference. He said a “gunfight” occurred over a period of time, not seconds. “…It was obvious the suspect was intending to harm or kill law enforcement.”
Lira was shot dead by law enforcement officers on Thursday afternoon. “On 6-11-20 at approximately 2:10 pm the Sheriff’s Office received a report of an officer shot in the area of Ramada Drive and Volpi Ysabel Road in Paso Robles. Law enforcement officers were stationed in this area as part of a containment team assigned to keep the suspect, Mason Lira, from evading officers who were beginning a search of the riverbed,” a June 11 press release stated.
“The wounded officer was evacuated from the scene and transported to a local hospital for treatment. Officers arrived at the scene and conducted a search for the suspect, when the suspect opened fire on the officers, wounding two of them. These officers were also evacuated and transported to local area hospitals for treatment. Officers continued their search for the suspect along the Salinas River when they encountered Lira, who had been hiding in the riverbed. The suspect attempted to flee from the riverbed towards Highway 101 when he was shot by law enforcement officers.”
Sheriff’s officials confirmed: “Mason Lira was pronounced deceased at the scene of the shooting. Officers found Lira in possession of two handguns that are believed to have been stolen from a commercial burglary in the City of San Luis Obispo a few days before the shooting of the Sheriff’s deputy on June 10th. The officers wounded today are employed by the following agencies: California Highway Patrol. Arroyo Grande Police Department. Kings County Sheriff’s Office.”
The officers transported to local area hospitals are in good condition with non life threatening injuries.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Sheriff Called the Shooting ‘an Unprovoked Attack’ by a Suspect ‘Laying in Ambush’
The Sheriff called the shooting an “unprovoked attack on local law enforcement, and in my opinion the act of a coward.”
Asked the suspect’s motive, the sheriff said: “…it’s kind of been the general theme floating around the nation right now, this rise up anti-law enforcement coalition it seems. All we can surmise at this point is this was an unprovoked attack on officers simply doing their job in the community.”
He said a sheriff’s deputy responding to the aid of the police department was shot in the face by a suspect who was “laying in ambush.” The wounded deputy was flown to a trauma center for his “advanced medical condition.”
The shooting started at 3:09 a.m. when staff inside the police building began hearing firing at the police station. They also viewed the shooting on cameras. They responded outside the building and requested the assistance of local law enforcement.
The suspect “began firing at police cars as they entered the downtown area where the police building is located.” Two deputies arrived on scene at 4 a.m. to assist the other officers. At 4:19 a.m. the two deputies were searching the area in which the shooter was last seen. They came under fire and one deputy was shot in the head. The second deputy returned fire, “protecting his downed officer.” The deputy pulled his wounded partner to safety.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook that it “has identified a suspect in a shooting incident which killed a local man and seriously wounded a Sheriff’s Deputy in Paso Robles…”
2. A Possible Transient’s Body Was Then Located at the Train Station
Officers then found the body of a man near the Paso Robles train station near where the shooting occurred. He was a 58 year old male, and detectives determined he was the victim of homicide. The police chief said authorities believe the shootings are linked. Local business owners had reported seeing a dead body on the train platform. The victim is possibly a transient in the area who was camping overnight and was shot at close range in the back of the head with one shot.
The suspect “has been identified as 26-year-old Mason James Lira, a transient from the Monterey area. Lira is accused of a shooting spree which began at approximately 3:45 a.m. today when he started shooting at the Paso Robles Police Department building. A Sheriff’s Deputy who responded to that call was shot in the face and later a local man was found shot to death at the Paso Robles train station,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote.
“A widespread search of downtown Paso Robles was conducted but the suspect was not located.”
The Sheriff’s Department warned: “Lira is considered armed and dangerous. If a member of the public spots Lira, you are advised not to make contact with him. Instead call 911 and report his location to law enforcement.”
On June 11, the department added, “Last night around 10:10 PM the Sheriff’s Office was notified of more shots being fired between 2nd and 3rd Streets in Paso Robles. Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Paso Robles Police Department Officers along with support from other local law enforcement and aid from Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Kings County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation have been conducting extensive searches.”
3. Lira’s Facebook Page Is Filled With Rambling, Nonsensical Posts
On Facebook, Lira wrote that he lives in Fresno, California, was from Visalia, California, and was single. His top visible post dates to 2018 and reads, “Looking at all my old posts; Wow. Some out there things were typed.” The comment thread has now filled up with angry comments about the shooting.
That year he said he was offering computer repair services, writing, “I am igniting as in offering my services to the public of Santa Cruz and surrounding areas. If your computer is running slow or is suffering from Viruses or other problems I am here in the location.”
Rambling posts on Facebook say things like:
“Its mu versus the atla’s. We won and did. Our kingdom. Is Your Coast, our salvation. Our place.”
“Luma is tay osa. Lumeria, Mu is alive. In China.”
“The Satanic groups which are organized into hubs, and some of the lesser occult groups like the KKK., have women which are kept under lock and key to serve as breeders. Breeders are kept from having outside talents that would help them function in the outside world. Some are not allowed to have driver’s licenses and other basics.”
“We will win, this war. Nostra, kuna aso mopa. Sienta. Infiltrated your kingdom.”
“It feels like life, are you making me go insane and not explaining to me? Loved you for what. Him to, them too, her too, they too, me too, you too.”
“You kill your own people, which is why we wage war with the Atlanteans.”
“Ill turn in when all the celebrities and men and women who have ever killed me or raped me or tortured me come forward and get 15 years to life in prison. No Parole. I actually wont turn in, because you poisoned me.”
“Why wont the presidents explain to me whats going on. You really need to explain to me whats going on.”
“Your all like me, except im not a coward, you all think you can kill someone and come back and live. Ive never raped, Ive never murdered.”
One woman defended him on his Facebook comment thread, writing, “he’s been mentally ill long before this, it should never have gotten this far, he fell through the cracks. Had he been helped prior this wouldn’t of happen!”
4. Lira Has a Criminal History & Once Caused Problems on a Train in Oregon
The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to KVAL-TV that Lira “has a misdemeanor criminal history in Tulare County.”
The cases include “Battery on a Peace Officer, which he pleaded guilty to in 2015, and most recently Failing to Appear on a 2019 charge of Returning to a School Campus case.”
A Mason Lira of Fresno was previously accused by the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office of a bizarre incident on an Amtrak train. Lira “made unusual gestures and acted in an unsettling way which prompted a call to Klamath 911,” according to KVAL-TV, which reported that the caller said Lira made “concerning statements about weapons and threats to passengers and the conductor.”
The train grinded to a halt. “The delay caused potential for thousands of dollars in lost revenue for Amtrak, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe due to the tracks being shut down for that period of time,” the sheriff’s office said.
5. The Wounded Deputy Was Named as Nicholas Dreyfus, Who Is Listed in Guarded Condition
Deputy Nicholas Dreyfus is in guarded condition. All of the Sheriff’s Office has him, his wife, and his friends and family in our thoughts at this time. pic.twitter.com/uGEmZqSisd
— SLO County Sheriff (@SLOSheriff) June 11, 2020
The Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement that it was “releasing the identity of the Deputy who was wounded in the active shooter incident which occurred on 6-10-20 in Paso Robles. The Deputy is identified as 28-year old Nicholas Dreyfus. He began with the Sheriff’s Office in October 2018.”
The department continued: “He is currently assigned to our North County Sheriff’s Station in Templeton. While searching for the suspect in the active shooter incident, Dreyfus was shot in the face. He was transported to a local hospital and then flown to a trauma center out of the area where he underwent surgery for his injuries. The surgery was successful. He is listed in guarded condition and his prognosis is good. Dreyfus is married. His wife and family members are with him as he recovers.”