SLO police chief leaves gun behind in restroom, publicly apologizes

Jul 11, 2019

UPDATED July 12, 2019: Police Chief Deanna Cantrell's stolen firearm has been found, San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson said in a statement Thursday evening. Johnson said Skeeter Carlos Mangan, 30, admitted to, "finding the firearm in the restroom at El Pollo Loco, putting it in his pocket, and returning to his home to Los Osos." According to the statement, Mangan's brother-in-law reported him to authorities. Cantrell told KCBX News Friday morning no arrest had been made, but the department is preparing to file charges against Mangan.

San Luis Obispo’s top police officer is apologizing for losing her gun. Police Chief Deanna Cantrell said she was dining in a restaurant this week when she removed her service weapon and walked away from it. 

Chief Cantrell said she quickly realized her mistake Wednesday afternoon, that she had left her gun in a restroom at El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road, but when she returned to recover it, it was gone.

“My actions were irresponsible and dangerous,” Cantell said in a YouTube video distributed via email on Wednesday night. “And I’m so grateful that after our preliminary investigation, a child didn’t find it.”

Cantrell said she checked the restaurant’s video footage and three people entered the restroom behind her. The first person was a man who immediately left the restaurant after exiting the restroom. The other two returned to dining and said there was no firearm in the restroom when they entered. San Luis Obispo police released a photo of the first man on social media

“I was complacent, and that is something you can never be with a firearm,” Cantrell said. “I expect to be held accountable and I want to publicly apologize for my carelessness and I hope in some way this serves as a lesson for others.”

Cantrell said she fully expects to be disciplined for the incident, and that she reported it to the city manager.

"Cantrell has also vowed to use this incident as a training opportunity for all officers in the department," City Mangager Derek Johnson said in a statement Thursday. "Having carried a firearm safely for 25 years, she is committed to serving as an example of the level of vigilance that must be maintained at all times, regardless of experience or rank."

Johnson added that Cantrell had volunteered to attend training on firearms safety.

Cantrell told KCBX News the public has been very active in sending in tips on the firearm’s whereabouts.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department is continuing to investigate and asks anyone with information to call (805) 781-7312.