Latest News

SLO police chief left her gun in a restaurant bathroom — now it’s missing

More from the series

More coverage on the SLO police chief’s lost gun

Chief Deanna Cantrell left her gun in the bathroom at El Pollo Loco. Who took it and should she be disciplined? Read more here:

»» Update: SLO police chief’s lost gun recovered from Los Osos man. His brother-in-law turned him in

Original story:

San Luis Obispo’s police chief has issued a public apology after she left her gun in an El Pollo Loco bathroom Wednesday.

When she went back to retrieve the firearm, it was was gone, and now the Police Department is looking for a man they suspect may have taken it.

Deanna Cantrell issued a video apology Wednesday night for inadvertently leaving her gun behind in a stall at the restaurant on Los Osos Valley Road, where she’d stopped to eat lunch at about noon.

She realized her mistake within minutes and went back to get the weapon, but it wasn’t there, a city press release stated.

pollo loco.png
SLO Police are asking the public’s assistance in identifying this man. He may be in possession of a firearm left behind by Police Chief Deanna Cantrell at El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road. Anyone with information is asked to call 805-781-7312. Courtesy photo

Cantrell obtained video from the business, located next to Target, that showed a man entering the same restroom minutes after she’d left, according to the city’s press release issued at about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Police are asking the public’s assistance in locating the man who may be in possession of the stolen firearm. He is described as balding, and was wearing a black jacket, lime green and blue striped shorts, and sunglasses.

Cantrell acknowledged her actions were “irresponsible and careless,” adding she has “no excuses for my actions.”

“I talk about transparency, and therefore want to be as transparent as possible when we do things right as well as when we do not,” Cantrell said. “I believe in our relationships being built on trust, and hope that this furthers that goal. I inadvertently left my firearm in a public restroom and it has not been recovered.”

Two other people separately entered the same restroom after Cantrell left it, a boy about 10 years old and an adult man. Both remained in the restaurant and were questioned, saying they hadn’t seen a firearm, the city press release stated.

The man in the lime green and blue striped shorts remained in the restroom for about two minutes and then left El Pollo Loco through the same entrance he came in from, near the Dick’s Sporting Goods parking lot, according to surveillance, the city reported.

City Manager Derek Johnson said in a statement that Cantrell apologized to him, and they spoke personally.

“I wanted to reassure our community that protecting the public’s safety is our number one priority,” Johnson noted.

Johnson added that Cantrell will voluntarily attend training on firearm safety practices and vowed to use the incident as a training opportunity for all officers in the department.

“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 said.

The Police Department is continuing its investigation and asks anyone with information to call 805-781-7312.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.