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Year in review: Top stories of 2020 in Paso Robles 

Locals showed their support for local law enforcement involved in an active shooter situation in Paso Robles by decorating the town blue. Photo from Facebook.

–To say “wow, what a year,” doesn’t do justice to the actual year we had. It’s fair to say that never before have so many of us faced so much hardship together simultaneously. But through everything this year from the pandemic to fires to active shooters, Paso Robles has withstood it all. This year we learned the true meaning of community, and of resilience. Paso Roblans have stepped up to help neighbors in countless ways since the very beginning of the turbulence, and remain steadfast to this day.

This is the fifth time that I have compiled a list of the top stories of the year for the Paso Robles Daily News, and I must say, this year’s stories are hard to revisit, but I am also proud of how this community responded. I have grown such a respect for this town, and for small-town America in general, this year.

So here’s to 2021, Paso Robles; stay strong, I’m convinced we can face anything now.

Top stories of 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic

The county of San Luis Obispo has, at the time of writing this, surpassed over 10,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic was officially declared mid-March. As of today, the county health department attributes 82 deaths to the virus. Paso Robles continues to lead the county in total cases, ahead of San Luis Obispo despite its smaller population. Although the community remains relatively divided in terms of degrees of compliance to forced closures and stay at home orders, the community also stepped up this year to respond in a real way. Local companies donated masks, distilleries pivoted and began to create hand sanitizer, local nonprofits worked to keep shelves stocked with food, and the business community continues to provide financial assistance for struggling small businesses.

river fire paso robles

The remains of a home smoldering after the River Fire in Paso Robles.

Riverbed fire destroys homes

What was deemed the “River Fire,” broke out in the Salinas Riverbed in June. The blaze burned 15 acres, destroyed two homes, and caused damage to nine others. While this fire was started by machinery during weed abatement operations, there have been hundreds of reported fires in the Salinas Riverbed, and this particularly destructive blaze led to many efforts to improve the fire danger in the riverbed, such as clearing brush with the help of grazing goats, and relocating transients to a temporary camping site, and now, a state-funded housing conversion project at the former Motel 6 property.

Man shot dead after killing spree Paso Robles

Shooter Mason Lira held Paso Robles at bay for days in an ordeal that ended in his death. Sadly, a well-known Paso Robles man was shot in the head by Lira, and three officers were injured. The community showed support and gratitude for local law enforcement after the active shooter situation by decorating the town and police station with blue ribbons and signs.

Paso Robles’ skies fill with smoke from wildfires

It was a terrible year for fires in California. Across the state, fires killed 31 people, destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 buildings, and burned 4.1-million acres. A large fire near Big Sur, started by an illegal campfire, destroyed thousands of acres, including a California Condor nesting sanctuary. Smoke from this fire filled Paso Robles skies. Smoke from the Garza Fires near Salinas also made its way to Paso Robles.


City Council rejects state’s strict order, votes to return to ‘Purple Tier’ restrictions

Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo County found themselves included in the governor’s “Southern California” region and were forced into a strict, state-mandated stay-at-home order, despite local ICU capacity availability rates that were, and are, far less grim than Los Angeles, which is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks in the country. In efforts to allow some small degree of leniency for the operations of local businesses and keep mom-and-pop type shops afloat, the council voted to reject the state’s stay at home order, and instead stay at the “purple tier” level of enforcement. However, the council later clarified that while the City of Paso Robles will not be enforcing beyond Purple Tier Guidelines, the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order is still legally in effect, and businesses operating in violation of it are doing so at the risk of enforcement action from the state or county.

Stand for Freedom rally held in Paso Robles

The forced halt of most business operations that has now been in effect for over 10 months in California jurisdictions has not come without pushback in Paso Robles, at both the political and personal levels. In May, hundreds of protesters filled Downtown City Park to stand for freedom and constitutional rights.

Black Lives Matter protests in San Luis Obispo end in arrests

A Black Lives Matter protest ended in multiple arrests after protesters took over the freeway in San Luis Obispo. The case is still active, and has become high-profile, locally, and nationally. Protesters continue to ask the DA to drop charges against Tiana Arata and Elias Bautista. In Paso Robles, Black Lives Matter protests were held at Downtown City Park. 

Trevon Perry

Trevon Perry.

Murder charges filed in Trevon Perry case

Trevon Perry was last seen in Paso Robles during the early morning hours of March 15, 2020. A missing person investigation quickly ensued which developed into a criminal investigation, and in July, 23-year-old Nicholas Ron of Paso Robles was charged with murder. Additionally, Vivianna Monique Rodriguez, 24, of Paso Robles has been arrested on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact to Perry’s murder. On Nov. 24, Marie Holquin was arrested in San Bernardino county for an outstanding warrant directly related to the murder of Trevon Perry. Holquin is the mother of Nicholas Ron who is currently in custody for the murder of Trevon Perry. In June, hundreds of locals attended a vigil for Perry. Perry was 28-years-old. He left behind two children. 23-year-old Christopher Vento Wilson, Trevon’s friend, was stabbed to death in Shandon June 1, 2019. Trevon testified for the prosecution of the suspect, 26-year-old Kejuan Guy Bynum of Atascadero, who is accused of Wilson’s murder. Bynum is awaiting trial.

Thirteen indicted for drug trafficking operation centered in Paso RoblesThirteen indicted for drug trafficking operation centered in Paso Robles

In March, thirteen individuals were indicted for conspiring to sell and transport for sale heroin and methamphetamine across San Luis Obispo County. The drug trafficking operation was centered in Paso Robles and operated out of multiple locations within the county, including one residential property adjacent to the Paso Robles High School located at 203 Veronica Drive. The apparent leader of the drug trafficking organization was Rogelio “Rabi” Miranda who regularly coordinated with a supply source in Mexico and traveled to a stash house in the Los Angeles area to retrieve narcotics before returning to Paso Robles for distribution.

Paso Robles woman killed in ATV crash on the beach near Harmony

Tanya Hendry. Photo from Instagram.

Paso Robles woman killed in ATV crash on the beach near Harmony

A well-known and well-loved local bartender, 34-year-old Tanya Hendry, lost her life in a recent early-morning ATV crash on the beach near Harmony. Hendry was a popular local bartender at The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar in Paso Robles. Four people were in an ATV that left a steep cliff edge, rolled down the sheer cliff into the water near the shoreline. Hendry was the only one to lose her life in the crash.

A metal monolith sits atop Pine Mountain in Atascadero on Wednesday. Photo by Ronelle Volk.

Monolith appears on Pine Mountain in Atascadero

In November, Utah state biologists discovered a mysterious monolith during a helicopter survey of wild bighorn sheep in northern San Juan County, Utah. It was described as a non-magnetic metallic pillar that stood in a red sandstone slot canyon. The 9.5-foot tall monolith was made of metal sheets riveted together into the shape of a triangular prism. It was dismantled and removed by four men at the end of November, the New York Times reported. Less than two weeks after authorities found the mysterious object standing in the Utah desert, a similar monolith was reported nearly half-a-world away in the Romanian city of Piatra Neamt, NPR reported. The third monolith appeared in our very own backyard, Atascadero. Hikers discovered the monolith, which was later torn down by a group of out-of-town vandals, but then later replaced again by the artists who created it.

More top stories of 2020 in Paso Robles