Joel Shannon, NewsyBag
Published 7:04 p.m. ET Sept. 26, 2020
A California sheriff’s office on Friday identified a man who died in a shootout with deputies as a member of a white supremacist gang and said the suspect died after he waited in ambush for police.
Christopher Michael Straub — 38 of Templeton, California — fled from police, hid in a nearby cemetery and shot at deputies on Thursday morning, according to a news release and press conference from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
“The suspect fled into the cemetery, hid behind some thick shrubbery and ambushed the deputy as they got closer,” Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Thursday.
The incident occurred after a deputy recognized Straub’s vacant vehicle as belonging to a wanted felon and tried to stop Straub, who was walking in the area, Parkinson said.
Deputy Sheriff Richard “Ted” Lehnhoff was wounded in the leg during the ensuing gun battle.
The shootout ended in Straub’s death as he returned to his vehicle — which was disabled — and attempted to get in it, presumably to retrieve loaded weapons stored there, Parkinson said. Police reported finding “four assault rifles, one bolt action hunting rifle, one shotgun, two handguns plus the handgun he used to shoot at Deputies” in that vehicle.
Straub was identified by the sheriff’s office as a member of a white supremacist gang on multiple occasions, but Parkinson has declined to identify the gang, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
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After conducing a search warrant at his residence, police also found he was illegally manufacturing weapons parts.
Straub was booked into California jails more than two dozen times and was being investigated by the Sheriff’s Gang Task Force before Thursday’s incident, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports Straub’s convictions include a weapons manufacturing charge.
Lehnhoff underwent surgery on Thursday and is recovering the sheriff’s office says.
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