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Officer injured in Paso Robles active shooter situation; gunman remains at large

A central California sheriff's deputy was shot in the head early Wednesday in an “ambush” attack by a gunman intent on harming or killing police, authorities said.

The suspect may have also killed a homeless man found slain execution-style on nearby railroad tracks, authorities said.

The shooting prompted a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents as law enforcement searched for the suspect. 

By Wednesday afternoon, the shelter-in-place order remained in effect and the gunman remains at large. 

Officers reported shots fired at 3:15 a.m. at the Paso Robles Police Department building.

Shortly after, there were reports of gunfire near Downtown City Park where the officer was injured.

The officer was airlifted to a trauma center. He is in serious, but stable condition, officials said. 

“We feel that this was an ambush, that he planned it, that he intended for officers to come out of the police department and to assault them,” said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson.

Investigators later found the body of a man near railroad tracks several blocks away. He was shot at close range and the homicide is related to the other shooting, officials said.

An hours-long search of downtown Paso Robles ended without an arrest. Officials plan to release a sketch of the suspect.

The shooter, a man with dark hair in his 20s or 30s, fired at the Paso Robles Police Department around 3:45 a.m. while officers were inside, he said. Gunfire occurred over a span of some minutes, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.

Two sheriff’s deputies were fired upon when they arrived on the scene, wounding one. His partner returned fire, said sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla.