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Paso Robles man murdered during two day crime spree identified and honored

James Watson photo
Johnny Watson/GoFundMe

PASO ROBLES, Calif. - Paso Robles Police Department identified James Watson as the man believed to have been shot and killed by Mason James Lira at the beginning of a two-day manhunt. Police shot and killed Lira Thursday afternoon in a riverbed south of Paso Robles.

Police believe Lira used a stolen gun to kill Watson near the Paso Robles train station on Wednesday. Police do not know why Lira killed Watson in that unprovoked attack. Later that day, authorities said Lira ambushed two San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies. One deputy is recovering from a gunshot wound to the face. Three more officers were hurt during a shootout with Lira Thursday afternoon.

A GoFundMe page has been setup by Watson's son, Johnny, who described his father as, "... a big ol mommas boy his whole life and was proud of that fact. He was protective of his family, a kind hearted and loving big brother to his 4 sisters."

The GoFundMe has raised more than double the goal in less than 24 hours. Watson would have turned 59 years old in less than two weeks.

Johnny Watson wrote that his father loved the Eagles, John Wayne movies, Elvis Presley and his family, "He would give the biggest bear hugs every time he seen one of his sisters no matter what, sometimes his sisters disliked getting them because he would pick them up and hug them to tight. although they would give anything to have one more hug now."

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C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter. To learn more about C.J., click here


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