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'I Was Complacent': San Luis Obispo Police Chief Apologizes After Losing Gun In Restroom

SAN LUIS OBISPO (CBS / AP) — Authorities on the Central Coast are seeking a man seen in surveillance video after a police chief left her gun in a restroom and it was immediately stolen.

San Luis Obispo Chief Deanna Cantrell revealed her mistake in a video on the department's Facebook page, saying her actions were "irresponsible and dangerous" and that she's glad a child didn't find the weapon.

"I talk about transparency and a relationship that's built on trust with our community. So I also want to make sure that I practice what I believe. Therefore, I think you should hear this from me," Cantrell said at the beginning of the video.

Cantrell said she was having lunch in a restaurant on Wednesday when she went into the restroom.

"Even though my gun was in a holster it didn't stay clipped to my pants so I removed it and I placed it next to me," she said.

Cantrell said within minutes of leaving the restroom she realized what had happened and went back, but the gun was gone.

She immediately checked video footage and saw that three people entered the restroom after her.

"The first man, whose photo was released on Facebook, went into the restroom after me and then immediately left the restaurant without ordering any food," she said.

The other two people were still in the restaurant and said the firearm was not in the restroom when they went in, she said.

The photo of the possible suspect shows the man wearing a shirt, shorts and sunglasses apparently entering the El Pollo Loco restaurant.

San Luis Obispo Stolen Gun Suspect
Surveillance photo of man suspected of stealing a gun belonging to San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell from a restaurant on July 10, 2019. (San Luis Obispo Police Department)

The chief said she reported the theft immediately and the gun was entered into a national database.

"I was complacent, and that's something you can never be with a firearm. I expect more from myself, as a person and especially a police officer that has carried a firearm for 25 years," Cantrell said.

Cantrell has been police chief in San Luis Obispo since January 2016. She previously spent 21 years with the Mesa, Arizona, Police Department, where she rose from traffic and patrol duty through numerous positions to assistant chief of the administrative service bureau.

"I expect to be held accountable and I want to publicly apologize for my carelessness, and I hope that in some way this serves as a lesson for others," Cantrell said.

San Luis Obispo, a city of 47,000 and home to California Polytechnic State University, is in the Central Coast region between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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