TEMPLETON — San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson released the names of the injured deputy and the gunman who was shot and killed in a shootout Thursday morning, Sept. 24, near Templeton.
SLO Sheriff’s Deputy Richard “Ted” Lehnhoff was transported to a nearby hospital Thursday morning by a CHP helicopter after being shot in the leg by suspected shooter Christopher Michael Straub at the Templeton Cemetery, Parkinson said.
Lehnhoff underwent surgery for his lower leg injury and was in stable condition as of Friday morning, Parkinson said.
“He is in good spirits and is receiving a lot of support from the community and also from the department,” Parkinson said of Lehnhoff, who was most recently stationed in the North County SLO Sheriff substation.
Lehnhoff began his career with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office in 2008 as a correctional deputy. In May of 2013, he went to work for the County of Riverside, where they put him through a law enforcement academy.
In January of 2015, he returned to SLO County and became a patrol deputy.
Straub, 38, of Templeton, was a wanted felon with a long criminal history. He was a member of a white supremacist gang centered in San Luis Obispo.
Straub was currently wanted on a felony evading a police officer warrant stemming from an incident with the Paso Robles Police Department.
“To kind of sum of some of his past, Straub had been booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail six times, been booked in Orange County Jail 14 times, LA County Jail six times, and Santa Clara Jail two times for a total of approximately 28 bookings,” Parkinson said. “He had also served two separate terms in state prison.”
On Friday morning, Sept. 25, Parkinson stood next to a table covered with guns and rifles found in Straub’s black Mustang.
“I believe at least three of them were loaded and chambered, ready to fire,” Parkinson said, pointing to the table of guns. “At least two of the rifles were in the back seat, easily accessible and also loaded.”
Straub was attempting to get into the locked Mustang, parked on Theatre Drive near the Templeton Cemetery when he was shot and killed during a second gunbattle with SLO County Sheriff’s deputies.
“There was concern that he knew he was potentially going back to prison and did not want to and made statements that he intended to shoot it out with the police,” Parkinson said. “We knew that he was very dangerous. He had returned to his vehicle after the first shooting in an obvious attempt to get more weapons and ammunition and continue shooting at our deputies.”
The incident began at approximately 10:28 a.m. Thursday, when Deputy Lehnhoff 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, Straub.
The deputy made a U-turn and saw the suspect walking down Templeton Cemetery Road. The deputy drove down the road toward Straub and attempted to make a pedestrian traffic stop.
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.
Straub ran out of the cemetery and into a neighboring vineyard to his car parked on Theatre Drive, where he was shot and killed.
SLO Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Teams executed a search warrant Thursday afternoon at Straub’s residence, Parkinson said.
Recovered through the search warrant were gun manufacturing equipment and gun parts.
SLO Sheriff’s Office Gang Task Force was currently conducting an investigation into gun manufacturing on Straub before the shooting, Parkinson said, who added that it was likely Straub manufactured some of the guns and ammunition found in the car.
“Many of the weapons you see, well, I will say this first, all of the weapons and ammunition you see were illegal for the suspect to possess because he was a convicted felon,” 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 other two active-shooter situations were in Paso Robles in mid-June and Nipomo in late-August.