By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A North County man and convicted felon, who was believed to have been suicidal, ambushed San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies in Templeton Thursday morning, shooting one deputy in the leg, prior to being killed by law enforcement officers.
Chris Straub, 38, had broken up with his girlfriend within the past day and was also experiencing car trouble, acquaintances of his told CalCoastNews. Acquaintances suspect Straub’s death was a suicide by cop.
SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a press conference following the gun battle that the suspect was a member of white supremacist gang. Straub, of Templeton, also had an outstanding warrant and an extensive history of weapons charges, according to the sheriff’s office.
“He knew he was potentially going to prison and did not want to and had made statements that he intended to shoot it out with the police,” Parkinson said at a news conference Friday morning.
At approximately 10:20 a.m. Thursday, deputies noticed Straub’s car in the 3400 block of Theatre Drive. The deputy attempted to detain Straub, who fled by foot.
One deputy gave chase, and a second joined in the search. Straub ran through a nearby vineyard to Templeton Cemetery, hid and then ambushed the deputies.
Straub fired multiple rounds from a handgun, striking Deputy Richard “Ted” Lehnhoff once in the leg. The deputies returned fire.
Again, Straub fled, this time attempting to return to his vehicle through the vineyard. But, more deputies arrived at the scene and intercepted Straub before he could reenter his vehicle.
Straub was still armed with a handgun, and a gun battle ensued. Deputies shot Straub, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
A CHP helicopter airlifted Lehnhoff to a local hospital. The wounded deputy is in stable condition.
Following the gun battle, deputies seized several firearms from Straub’s vehicle, at least three of which were loaded, Parkinson said during a press conference Friday morning. Straub was apparently trying to get to at least one rifle at the tine he was shot and killed.
Additionally, investigators seized firearms from Straub’s Templeton home. It is suspected Straub manufactured some or parts of the firearms found at his residence.
The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is conducting an investigation into the incident with help from the CHP’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team. The Sheriff’s Gang Task Force had been conducting a criminal investigation into Straub’s activities prior to the shooting.
No additional suspects were involved in the incident.