Update: Authorities identify suspect from Thursday’s shooting incident
Update posted Friday, 6 p.m.
–The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is releasing new information in the officer-involved shooting that occurred on Thursday in Templeton.
The now-deceased suspect in the incident has been identified as 38-year-old Christopher Michael Straub of Templeton. Straub had a significant criminal history having been booked 28 times into jails all across California including two incarcerations in state prison.
Straub was a known member of a white supremacist gang and a criminal investigation had already been initiated by the Sheriff’s Gang Task Force when this incident occurred, authorities say.
Multiple weapons were discovered afterward in Straub’s vehicle including four assault rifles, one bolt action hunting rifle, one shotgun, two handguns plus the handgun he used to shoot at deputies. After a search warrant was served on his residence, it was discovered he was illegally manufacturing parts for weapons. Straub was a wanted felon and it is illegal for felons to possess any weapons.
The deputy in this incident was identified as 34-year-old Richard “Ted” Lehnhoff. He was wounded in the leg during a gun battle with the suspect in the Templeton cemetery. He was airlifted to a local hospital to receive medical attention. He underwent surgery on his leg last night. He is recovering and is in stable condition.
Lehnhoff began his career at the sheriff’s office in 2008 as a correctional deputy. He left for a job in law enforcement in Riverside County. In 2015, he returned to the sheriff’s office to work as a patrol deputy.
The investigation is continuing. No further information is available at this time.
Update posted Thursday, 6 p.m.:
Update: Suspect killed in shooting was known white supremacist gang member, authorities say
–The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office has released additional details regarding the officer-involved shooting that occurred in Templeton.
On Thursday, sheriff’s deputies conducted a traffic stop on a wanted felon in the 3400 block of Theatre Drive in Templeton. Upon pulling over, the suspect fled from his vehicle on foot and a deputy gave chase and was joined by a second deputy in the search. The suspect ran through vineyards to the Templeton Cemetery, hid, and then ambushed the deputies. The suspect then fired multiple rounds from a handgun at the deputy, striking him in the leg, authorities say. The deputies returned fire.
The suspect continued to flee and attempted to return to his vehicle through the vineyard. Additional deputies arrived on the scene and intercepted the suspect as he tried to regain access to his vehicle. He was still armed with a handgun at which point a second officer-involved shooting took place on Theatre Drive. The suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene. No additional suspects are outstanding.
A semi-truck crash occurred on Highway 101 shortly after the shooting incident. CHP Officer Patrick Seebart said, “As officers and deputies made an approach towards the downed suspect from the OIS a police officer from Paso Robles Police Department was traveling southbound on US-101 when he tried to slow traffic down to keep them out of the line of fire if more rounds were fired between law enforcement and the suspect. As the officer stopped southbound traffic on the freeway the driver of a big rig driver swerved suddenly causing his vehicle to jackknife. The collision tied up traffic even more than it already was due to the large amount of law enforcement vehicles in the area.”
The deputy who was shot was airlifted by a CHP helicopter to a local hospital for medical attention. The deputy is in stable condition.
The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is conducting an investigation of the incident with assistance from the California Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team.
The suspect is a convicted felon with an outstanding felony warrant. He has an extensive history of weapons charges and is a member of a white supremacist gang, authorities say. The Sheriff’s Gang Task Force was conducting a criminal investigation on him prior to the shooting. The identification of the suspect is pending notification of next of kin.
This incident was the third shooting of its kind that has occurred this year in San Luis Obispo, which is very rare for San Luis Obispo County, according to Sheriff Ian Parkinson.
Parkinson conducted a press conference about the incident, which can be viewed here.
Original story posted Thursday, 11 a.m.
Officer-involved shooting reported in Templeton
–The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office posted the following alert on their Facebook page shortly after 10:30 a.m. this morning:
ALERT: The Sheriff’s Office is responding to reports of an officer-involved shooting near Templeton Cemetery Road in Templeton. We are advising the public to stay clear of this area. We will update once we have more information.
According to eye-witness reports, an officer was apparently shot and has been transported on a helicopter. The suspect is reportedly deceased. Futher details are pending a press conference today with San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Press Officer Tony Cipolla.
There was also reportedly an accident on Highway 101 involving a big rig truck, which blocked traffic for one southbound lane of Highway 101.
No further information is available at this time. Updates will be reported as received from authorities and additional eye-witness reporting.