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San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office

This still image taken from a surveillance camera and provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office seeking the public's assistance in finding a suspect believed to be responsible for a shooting that took place in Paso Robles in the morning on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Authorities say a California sheriffs deputy was shot in the head in an "ambush" attack by a gunman intent on harming or killing police, The shooter opened fire on a police station. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office via AP)

LOS ANGELES – A gunman believed to have shot a Central California sheriff's deputy and targeted others in a series of attacks was shot dead Thursday after confrontations that wounded three other law enforcement members, authorities said.

Mason James Lira, 26, was killed after he emerged from a brushy riverbed in Paso Robles, climbed a steep hillside and ran toward a vineyard, authorities said.

He had two stolen handguns and investigators found a box of ammunition, Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said.

He clearly had been planning attacks on law enforcement, possibly for days, the chief said.

Over the course of about 36 hours, Lira opened fire in an ambush and managed to evade hundreds of law enforcement officers, authorities said.

“Every time that law enforcement got near to him, he engaged them in gunfire,” Lewis said at an evening news conference.

The manhunt for Lira began at dawn Wednesday, when authorities said he opened fire on the Paso Robles police station. Two sheriff’s deputies heard gunshots and responded but didn’t see the attacker until they were outside their patrol car and under fire.

Deputy Nicholas Dreyfus, 28, was hit in the face. His partner fired back and dragged Dreyfus behind a police car. Dreyfus, who was able to radio that he’d been shot, underwent surgery Thursday and was in guarded condition.