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Lawsuit alleges officers failed to engage active shooter while he loitered outside police station 

26-year-old Mason James Lira

Mason James Lira went on a shooting spree in Paso Robles in June 2020.

Paso Robles city officials decline to comment on allegations

– Victims of a June 2020 active shooter incident in Paso Robles have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. The plaintiffs in the case are the son of a man killed by the active shooter and a sheriff’s deputy who was shot in his face by the shooter.

A ruling made last week by Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett details some of the allegations in the case.

The victims allege that Paso Robles Police failed to engage shooter Mason Lira while he brandished a firearm outside the police station, more than an hour before his rampage began with the killing of a man at the Paso Robles train station.

The court filing says, “Plaintiffs allege three police officers and one police dispatcher were on duty and stationed inside the Paso Robles Police Department while Lira was loitering in front of the station with a handgun. Plaintiffs allege the officers observed Lira on video surveillance and deliberated as to whether they should move to the roof, leave the station, or turn off the lights. Plaintiffs allege the officers ultimately decided to stay in the station and not engage Lira because they were ‘a little weary (sic)’ that Lira was ‘armed with a gun.’ Plaintiffs further allege that Lira fired several rounds into the city’s police station, and that the officers inside chose not to return fire.”

The court filing says police received reports of Lira shooting a firearm at a woman in downtown Paso Robles around 12:11 a.m. on the morning of June 10, 2020; and at around 3 a.m. Lira walked to the downtown police station.

james watson

James Watson was killed at the Paso Robles train station.

About an hour later, at approximately 4 a.m. Lira killed James Watson at the train station. At about 4:25 a.m. Lira shot San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Dreyfus.

Nicholas Dreyfus at his pinning ceremony on May 29, 2019.

The court filing says Paso Robles police officers were aware that Lira was a suspect in a shooting earlier that morning, and chose not to engage him when he was present at the police station, thus allowing him to fatally shoot Watson and wound Dreyfus.

Lira was shot and killed by law enforcement after a two-day manhunt.

Paso Robles City Manager Ty Lewis, who was then police chief, declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

“As there is still pending litigation on this matter I cannot substantially comment on the case,” Lewis said. “I can say our community… we are all still healing from this horrific event. Our hearts go out to all those victimized by Mason Lira’s evil acts. I am so grateful for the coordinated law enforcement response that ended this shared nightmare.”

Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin said, “Because this an ongoing case, my comments are restricted. Needless to say, I continue to hold those who have lost so much during this incident in my thoughts and prayers. My respect for those who bravely protected us knows no bounds.”

Read the full court ruling here


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