San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson says early indications are that an active shooter who was killed by law enforcement last week in Nipomo was having a mental health crisis.
Sheriff Parkinson identified the gunman as Scott Huffman, 42, of Bakersfield.
Huffman was shot and killed during a confrontation with sheriff's deputies and a California Highway Patrol officer in the parking lot of the Vons gas station at the corner of Tefft Street and Mary Avenue on Friday.
Prior to that, Parkinson says Huffman had fired more than 20 rounds from a handgun both inside and outside the gas station's convenience store.
No law enforcement or civilians were hurt during the incident.
Parkinson says Huffman had traveled from Bakersfield to San Luis Obispo County that day. A woman who was in his vehicle fled when the shooting started. Parkinson says there is no indication that she did anything wrong or knew that the shooting was going to happen. He says it was not a planned event.
The motive for the shooting remains unknown at this time. Parkinson says Huffman had no criminal history and no known history of mental illness.
"We have a mental illness problem in our nation that truly needs addressing," Parkinson said during a press conference on Monday, adding that more needs to be invested in treating and working with those with mental illnesses.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office's Major Crimes Unit is investigating the officer-involved shooting, with help from the CHP and FBI.
@SLOSheriff identify Friday’s active shooter in Nipomo as 42-year-old Scott Huffman of Bakersfield. He was shot dead by deputies on scene. Authorities served a search warrant at his home in Bakersfield in investigation. He was not a resident of SLO Co. and was just there for day pic.twitter.com/O1uw1NvHbk— Megan Healy (@HealyMegan) August 24, 2020
"Even coming to work today, it is a bit of an eerie feeling. It leaves me with a pit in my stomach," said Jeneane Lettau, who manages Vitamins and Herb Store across from the gas station.
Lettau wasn't at work during the active shooting, but the incident has put her on high alert when anyone enters her store.
"We operate with the doors open so I'm aware of people coming in and now, but I'm more aware of what's going on in the parking lot now," Lettau said.
Other business owners checked in on their employee's emotional health before returning to work.
"I did ask to make sure that they were emotionally okay because it was shocking for everyone here," said Charlie Wilson, owner of Forever Home Furnishings.
Her nephew, Chris Wilson, witnessed the shooting and blocked in Huffman's car with his own truck to prevent the shooter from leaving.
In Monday's press conference, Sheriff Parkinson discouraged people from stepping into a dangerous situation, but still, he praised gas station employees and Chris Wilson for their bravery.
"I think all of them are to be commended," Sheriff Parkinson said.
Community members praised law enforcement and citizens for protecting them.
"I was just a little piece of that puzzle. They were the ones who came in and saved the day," Chris Wilson said.