A San Diego man suspected of sucker-punching a police officer last week while dressed as Jesus Christ at a Gaslamp District Halloween street festival was behind bars Wednesday in Idaho, where he allegedly fled following the attack.
Eric Van Vleet, 24, will be extradited back to his hometown to face charges over the assault, which left the ambushed lawman dazed and suffering from a facial cut that required stitches, said SDPD Lt. Dan Smyth.
The crime occurred about 1 a.m. Friday, as the victim and fellow officers were trying to detain a drunk and combative partygoer who was behaving aggressively toward a woman in the 700 block of Fifth Avenue.
During the scuffle, Van Vleet — who was uninvolved in the original fracas — allegedly jumped into the fray, “yelled some anti-police rhetoric” and struck the officer before running off into the surrounding crowd, according to Smyth.
The victim, a three-year member of the San Diego Police Department, was taken to a hospital for treatment of a roughly inch-long laceration and other trauma.
“SDPD detectives … immediately began an investigation and were able to quickly locate private surveillance footage which allowed them to identify the man as … Van Vleet,” the lieutenant said. “Their investigation also determined the attack was entirely unprovoked, based on the statements of several independent civilian witnesses.”
Late Tuesday evening, sheriff’s deputies in Cassia County, Idaho, arrested Van Vleet on a nationwide warrant issued over the San Diego assault.
— City News Service
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