SLO police chief loses her gun in restaurant bathroom

July 11, 2019

San Luis Obispo Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell left her gun in an El Pollo Loco restroom stall on Wednesday, after which it was promptly stolen, and the police department is now asking for help from the public in retrieving its chief’s firearm. [Cal Coast Times]

Cantrell was eating lunch at El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road at about noon when she went to the restroom and inadvertently left her personal firearm in the stall, according to police. In a video published on the city’s YouTube channel, Cantrell gave her account of what occurred.

“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,” Cantrell said in the video statement. “I left, and I left my firearm in the restroom. Within minutes I realized it, but when I went back it was gone. Someone had stolen it.”

Cantrell said she immediately checked surveillance footage and saw three people had entered the restroom after her. The first person to have entered the room after her is a man suspected of picking up and leaving with Cantrell’s gun.

The man remained in the restroom for about two minutes and then left through the same entrance where he entered the restaurant, which is near the Dicks Sporting Goods parking lot, police said. The news release describes the suspect as balding, wearing a black jacket, lime green and blue striped shorts and sunglasses.

The police department is circulating surveillance images of the man on Facebook. He was last observed on Los Osos Valley Road at about 12:15 p.m., according to the Facebook post.

After the man left the restroom, a boy about 10 years old entered the bathroom and left, followed by another man. Both the boy and the man who followed him were still in El Pollo Loco when Cantrell returned. The boy and the man were each questioned, and neither reported seeing a firearm, according to the city.

“My actions were irresponsible and dangerous, and I am so grateful that, after our preliminary investigation, a child didn’t find it,” Cantrell said in the video statement. “I was complacent, and that is something you can never be with a firearm. I expect more from myself as a person and especially as a police officer that has carried a firearm for 25 years.”

Cantrell said the incident was immediately reported to her supervisor and law enforcement, and the gun was entered into a national database.

“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.”

City Manager Derek Johnson said he spoke personally with Cantrell and that she apologized for the mistake and voluntarily agreed to attend training on firearms safety practices. Cantrell also vowed to use the incident as a training opportunity for all SLO police officers, Johnson said.

Johnson did not mention any sanctions Cantrell might face.


Hooray for the unisex bathrooms that aided the suspect in stealing the firearm. /sarc off

By now a gangbanger has probably paid decent $ for the weapon and once it is used, {cop} will be the first suspect via ballistics testing.

Way to go Chief.


Oh geeze, a toilet is a toilet, quit dragging sex orientation or religion or politics into some ignoramus loosing their gun. It’s a frigging bathroom, holy crap*


My comment had to do with the positive probability of a higher number of people using the restroom due to the unisex designation rather than the traditional setup of male and female restrooms. My comment has nothing to do with sexual orientation, politics, or religion. Please try practicing a bit more comprehension rather than assuming people are inserting some type of backhanded political comment.


Immediately, the July 1, 2015, shooting and killing of Kate Steinle on Pier 14 in the Embarcadero District of San Francisco came to mind.

The gun used by García Zárate had been stolen in downtown San Francisco from a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger’s personal vehicle on June 27, 2015, according to the Bureau of Land Management.[6] The ranger testified at trial that he had left the weapon holstered and unsecured in a backpack under the front seat of his personal vehicle while he went to dinner with his family.[12] The car’s window had been broken.

It is perilously grievous when a sworn law enforcement officer loses track of his/her firearm. That missing firearm is now a “loose cannon” in our neighborhood. Of course, our hope is that Chief Deanna Cantrell’s stolen, SLOPD-issued gun will be quickly found before another unfortunate and horrendous event occurs.

Please refresh my memory. WHY would firearms safety practices training ever be necessary for a seasoned police CHIEF? Just unthinkable!


God forbid if this gun is used to commit a crime…


Seems like no police officer should ever have their weapon detached from their person while on duty or in public. This is an amazing lapse of good judgment.


This story is absolutely unbelievable. Needs to be fired for such carelessness.


I can see the spike in insurance premiums coming now.

Ordinarily would such negligence would be cause for termination?


Wow..just wow..imagine if the kid who entered had grabbed the gun and shot himself or another by mistake. If a CCW holder did this and later the weapon was turned in or retrieved by law enforcement, how would this go down? Jail time? revocation of the permit?


This isn’t about being contrite for making a mistake. This is about a complete lapse of safety and protocol and the Police Chief should be suspended, possibly even fired for her negligence. If she doesn’t get suspended or fired, then what kind of leadership example is this if something like this happens again with one of her deputies? A pat on the hand, saying ‘it’s okay, I know you won’t do this again’ isn’t acceptable.


isn’t normal protocol to give them a raise when they show bad judgement?



This is outrageous, and any private citizen would be charged with a crime for doing the same thing.

I say this police chief, Deanna Cantrell, ought to be fired from her job, she has failed in a vital responsibility of her job, and an example has to be made for the rank-and-file.

Why do we have a high standard of conduct for the ‘cop-on-the-beat’, but a low standard of behavior for the people we put in charge?

The whacky City of San Luis Obispo will probably give Chief Cantrell a raise for being ‘so transparent’, as if that is all important.

I hope the gun is recovered.

Fire Chief Cantrell.

Kevin Rice

Send your sentiments to City Manager Derek Johnson and carbon copy the local rag:,

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