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Police: California white supremacist was making illegal guns
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Police: California white supremacist was making illegal guns

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SAN LUIS OBISPO — A white supremacist gang member was likely trying to get to a rifle in his car — or another of the eight firearms inside — when he died firing a handgun in a shootout with San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies, authorities said Friday.

Charles Michael Straub, 38, was killed in a gun battle Thursday with deputies from the Sheriff's Office in Templeton, officials said.

Parkinson said Straub made statements that he intended to “shoot it out with the police” because he didn’t want to return to prison, where he had already served two sentences.

A convicted felon with a significant criminal history, Straub was wanted on a felony warrant for evading a peace officer at the time of his death, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said Friday at a news conference. A gang task force was also working on a case against him for illegal gun manufacturing.

Deputy Richard “Ted” Lehnhoff, 34, was struck by gunfire in the lower leg. He was in stable condition and in good spirits after surgery, Parkinson said.

Parkinson did not give details Friday on Straub's alleged gang affiliation, saying only that he was a confirmed part of a San Luis Obispo-based white supremacy group that the sheriff declined to name.

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Deputy Richard “Ted” Lehnhoff, 34, was struck by gunfire in the lower leg during a shootout with Charles Michael Straub in Templeton on Thursday. Multiple weapons were found in the truck of Straub's vehicle and at his residence according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office. 

Authorities found multiple weapons in Straub's vehicle and gun manufacturing equipment and parts at his home, which was searched after Thursday's shooting, Parkinson said. All of the weapons and ammunition were illegal because Straub was a convicted felon.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Thursday, a deputy on patrol noticed Straub's vehicle parked on a street in Templeton.

“He recognized the vehicle as belonging to a wanted felon,” Parkinson said Thursday. The deputy made a U-turn and found the vehicle unoccupied.

Straub was spotted walking nearby and when the deputy asked to speak with him, he ran into Templeton Cemetery and hid behind thick shrubbery, Parkinson said.

Additional deputies arrived, and when they approached, Straub ambushed them, the sheriff said. Straub fired multiple rounds at the deputies, hitting Lehnhoff.

Straub ran through a vineyard to his car and tried to get into it through the passenger side, Parkinson said, when a second shootout occurred. Investigators believe Straub was trying to get to one of the rifles in his car.

The deputies “engaged in a gun battle where the suspect was struck and pronounced dead at the scene,” Parkinson said.

A handgun was recovered at the scene.

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This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office shows assorted weapons, magazines and pieces of equipment that were allegedly confiscated from the truck of Charles Michael Straub. 

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This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office shows assorted weapons, magazines and body armor that was allegedly confiscated from a weapons manufacturing operation in the home of Charles Michael Straub.

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This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office shows assorted weapons and magazines that were allegedly confiscated from a weapons manufacturing operation in the home of Charles Michael Straub.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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