Photo credit: Alexander Nguyen

A 24-year-old man accused of hitting a San Diego police officer in the face in the Gaslamp District while dressed in a Jesus Halloween costume was arrested in Idaho, police announced Wednesday.

Around 1 a.m. on Nov. 1, officers were breaking up a large fight outside a bar in the 700 block of Fifth Avenue and taking an intoxicated man into custody as he attempted to hit a woman who was also trying to break up the fight, according to San Diego police.

As that situation was unfolding, a man who was not involved in the fight yelled “anti-police rhetoric” before striking one of the officers in the face, leaving him dazed and with a cut that required stitches, Lt. Dan Smyth said.

The man, who was wearing a Jesus costume, ran away before officers could apprehend him, Sgt. Matt Botkin said at the time. The injured officer, a three-year veteran of the department, was taken to a hospital to get stitches to close the one-inch laceration to his face.

Detectives from SDPD’s central division began investigating and found private surveillance footage that allowed them to identify the alleged assailant as 24-year-old Eric Van Vleet, of San Diego, Smyth said.

“Their investigation also determined the attack was entirely unprovoked, based on statement of several independent civilian witness,” the sergeant said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Van Vleet, who was taken into custody late Tuesday night in Cassia County, located southeast of Twin Falls, Idaho, by local sheriff’s deputies, Smyth said.

Van Vleet is being held in Cassia County on suspicion of battery against an officer and use of force against an officer resulting in injury, awaiting extradition to San Diego.

–City News Service

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