A young man faces felony charges Sunday after ramming a stolen van into patrol vehicles during a pursuit in Valley Center, resulting in the injury of a sheriff’s deputy and a dog, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) said.
Deputies with SDSO's Valley Center substation attempted to pull over a reportedly stolen Honda Odyssey van near the parking lot of the Valley View Casino Center before 3 a.m. Sunday, officials said.
The driver, identified as 22-year-old Kevin Meza of North County, at first stopped but then took off, narrowly missing a patrol vehicle, Sheriff's Lt. Rick Williams said.
A pursuit ensued.
Meza, who had his dog inside the van at the time, again came to a stop on Thundernut Lane. Deputies got out of their vehicles and approached Meza on foot, Williams said.
That is when Meza attempted to strike one of the deputies with the stolen van, Williams said. At least one Sheriff's deputy opened fire on the approaching vehicle.
Meza again took off, speeding down Thundernut Lane until he reached a dead end.
At that point, Meza turned around and again drove towards deputies, ramming a patrol vehicle and striking a second head-on, Williams said.
Deputies opened fire again.
The stolen van was damaged and could not continue any further.
A struggle ensued between deputies and Meza before he was taken into custody on charges of stealing and possessing a stolen vehicle, evading a police officer, resisting arrest and multiple counts of assault on a police officer.
The details of the altercation were not made clear.
An unidentified deputy was taken to the hospitals to be treated for whiplash and has since been released.
The dog was found inside the stolen vehicle with bullet wounds. He was taken to a veterinary hospital and is in stable condition.
Meza was also taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries sustained in one of the collisions. He was not struck by gunfire, Williams said.
Meza has since been released and is being held at the Vista Detention Center on $335,000 bail.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Sheriff's Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321. They can be reached after hours at (858) 565-5200. Anonymous tips can be made by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Earlier versions of this story said two deputies were injured. Further clarification verified that only one deputy was injured.
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