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.


Just another reason to go back to separate bathrooms for males and females…like the good ol days. Ya….she’s a goner.


Jim Crow, Lynchings, Slaves, No Womens Voting Rights, White Christian Supremacists etc. Ya, sounds super duper Conservative! Oh, but they Used to be called Democrats? And I bet the one that really makes you mad, Row vs Wade.

Moderator asleep at the wheel with allowing “Freedom of Hate Speech”.


Really? You just attempted to compare separate men’s and women’s restrooms with your laundry list of historical grievances? I guess that’s what your script told you to say, so you said it.


Always trying to censor others with the “Hate Speech” designation. Everyone is an enemy if they don’t agree with you?

By the way, it is Roe vs Wade.


That’s how they roll. Check out Google, Facebook, and Instagram if you want to see it in full scale.


Maybe its time for SLO to get a real police chief and stop trying to appease all of the currently special and approved demographics….


I’m surprised the moderator hasn’t taken down some of these comments that are mean and mocking of her sexuality which is her business and none of ours.

That said, this is a weird story. Derek Johnson is clearly clueless how to handle it. The “training” is public relations smokescreen — she doesn’t need it, and it’s a waste of time and money — the PR equivalent of sending her to jail.

A bigger question: the chief is an administrator. She’s not out patrolling, she’s not in dangerous places. Why the heck does she even carry a gun? Is it just that this is what big police boys and girls are entitled to do, so they do it? Derek, can you explain this to us stupid mortals?


Does anyone REALLY believe that she left her gun in the bathroom because she hasn’t had enough training? Did she miss the “don’t leave your gun in the bathroom” training last time it was offered? The City Manager needs to be fired, too, for even suggesting that that is the appropriate response to this.

Kevin Rice

The City Manager’s attempt to write the “rest of the story”, seal it with a kiss, and close the book is a disingenuous sham. This criminal act is not cured with an apology and paid training class.

The Police Chief Has Committed A Crime and Should be Terminated Immediately.

Penal Code 25100:

…a person commits the crime of “criminal storage of a firearm in the second degree” if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The person keeps any loaded firearm within any premises that are under the person’s custody or control.

(2) The person knows or reasonably should know that a child is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the child’s parent or legal guardian, or that a person prohibited from possessing a firearm or deadly weapon pursuant to state or federal law is likely to gain access to the firearm.

(3) The child obtains access to the firearm and thereby causes injury, other than great bodily injury, to the child or any other person, or carries the firearm either to a public place or in violation of Section 417, or the person prohibited from possessing a firearm or deadly weapon pursuant to state or federal law obtains access to the firearm and thereby causes injury, other than great bodily injury, to himself or herself or any other person, or carries the firearm either to a public place or in violation of Section 417.

ALL of the above conditions have been met.


The next Kate Steinle is now at risk. Only time will tell.


I’d settle down, in your profession as a public servant Kevin, if an accident happened, would you want to be shamed Old English style tar and oil? Emt, cpr, a crisis etc? Regardless of sex, race, religion, etc? She apologized and came out, and youe just rubbing it in, any mandated reporter holds that leval of responsibity. Let’s hope though, she is justly served a response to her duty and negligence.


All B.S. aside, lets look at the scenario, chief goes to the restroom, gun is in holster, need to drop pants, gun does present a small glitch in this maneuver, so what do you do with it, I hope like hell she didn’t leave it by the sink and then go to a stall, so I would guess she set it on the floor, when done with business, pants up shirt tucked in belt applied, at this point you should notice one hip is a little light,opps need my paper weight, but at this point chief leaves gun where she set it and walks out, pretty forgetful I’d say, hopefully she stops at sink and washes hands, gun must not have been left here as she would have seen it, at this time I usually pat my pockets and my ass to make sure my wallet,keys,change and knife are where they belong and my zipper is up,not left on the floor of the stall in case they fell out, so if I had a holster on i would notice my GUN is missing and fetch the damm thing, apprantly the city of SLO has an idiot for a chief, training most likely won’t help this one, sorry she should be fired.


Talk about putting the public’s safety at a huge risk. She should be fired immediately.


Cops having Guns is an issue, especially ones with no degree and a half a** 6 months police academy. Even if I have a conceal and carry, it’s only 500 stinking dollars. Do you think a militia would survive in this day and age obliged by constitutional standards. Ya right, we saw it in Oregon with the Ranchers.


So the Chief goes to the Potty and leaves her gun behind along with the rest of it. Hope she remembered to flush. Unbelievable you can’t make this shit up. A gun safety class after 25 years? How about what do after I get fired training class


Nice joke wouldn’t be so funny if someone died.