Incident was Thursday morning near Templeton Cemetery off of Theatre Drive
TEMPLETON — A San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy was shot and the suspected shooter was killed Thursday morning, Sept. 24, in an exchange of gunfire with deputies near the Templeton Cemetery.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson held a press conference Thursday afternoon and spoke about the incident.
“We have had yet another tragic incident occur in our county,” Parkinson said. “This time it left a deputy wounded and the suspect deceased. This is the third shooting that we have had in the past four months in this county, which is very unusual for San Luis Obispo County.”
The gunman had an extensive criminal history that included multiple weapons charges and was a member of a white supremacist gang, Parkinson said. SLO Sheriff’s Office Gang Task Force was currently investigating the suspect before the shooting, Parkinson said.
“He is known by us. He is wanted by us. And he was considered armed and dangerous,” Parkinson said.
The SLO Sheriff’s Office did not release suspect’s identity, pending notification of family.
The incident began at approximately 10:28 a.m. Thursday, when a SLO County Sheriff’s deputy was driving in the 3400 block of Theatre Drive. He saw a black Mustang parked on the side of the road that belonged to a known wanted felon with an outstanding felony warrant.
The deputy made a U-turn and saw the suspect walking down Templeton Cemetery Road. The deputy drove down the road toward the man and attempted to make a pedestrian traffic stop.
“In other words, he turned on his lights, he contacted the suspect, asked him to stop and to talk to him,” Parkinson said. “The suspect immediately fled toward the cemetery.”
By this time, a deputy from the SLO Sheriff’s Office north station arrived. The suspect hid behind some thick shrubbery in the cemetery and “ambushed the deputies as they got closer. The suspect shot multiple rounds at the deputies, striking one deputy in the lower leg and the deputies returned fire,” Parkinson said.
The gunman ran out of the cemetery and into a neighboring vineyard toward his car parked on Theatre Drive.
Two additional deputies pulled up near the Mustang and saw a man with a handgun come out of the vineyard. A “gun battle” ensued and the suspect was shot and killed.
“There are no additional suspects outstanding in this case,” Parkinson said. “The deputy that was shot was airlifted by the California Highway Patrol helicopter to a local hospital. The deputy is in stable condition. He is currently awaiting surgery for his injuries.”
SLO Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is handling the investigation with the assistance of the CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team and the SLO County District Attorney’s Office.
SLO Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Teams executed a search warrant Thursday afternoon at the suspect’s residence, Parkinson said.
This was the third officer-involved, active-shooter situation in San Luis Obispo County in the past four months. In all three incidents, the gunman was shot and killed by law enforcement. The two previous active-shooter situations were in Paso Robles in mid-June and Nipomo in late-August.
“Very tough to explain why we have a pattern of three in four months when we have such long periods of not having a shooting,” Parkinson said.
Theatre Drive near Templeton Cemetery was expected to be open again Thursday evening.
A semi-truck headed south on Highway 101 jackknifed near the shooting at approximately 10:40 a.m. Traffic quickly backed up as only one lane was open heading south. The driver of the truck was not injured.
Law enforcement on the scene included SLO County Sheriff’s Office, Atascadero Police Department, Paso Robles Police Department, and California Highway Patrol. Cal Fire, and engines from Paso Robles and Atascadero also responded.