Man Accused of Attacking San Diego Officer While Wearing Jesus Costume Arrested in Idaho
A man accused of donning a Jesus Christ costume and attacking a San Diego police officer unprovoked on Halloween was arrested Tuesday in Idaho and was set to be extradited to California, according to KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego.
The attack happened outside the Fifth Avenue bar Atomic around 1 a.m. on Nov. 1, after a night of Halloween partying in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Police say officers were breaking up a large fight and trying to keep a drunk man from hitting a woman when a man clad as Jesus Christ approached the scrum. The Jesus character shouted “anti-police rhetoric” and ambushed the officer, either punching him or hitting him in the face with his elbow, according to San Diego Police Department.
“The attack was entirely unprovoked, based on the statements of several independent civilian witnesses,” police said.
The costumed attacker ran off, leaving the officer “significantly dazed” and with a cut that required stitches.
Surveillance video led police to identify the attacker as 24-year-old San Diego resident Eric Van Vleet, and they issued a nationwide warrant for his arrest on suspicion of battering and injuring an officer.
On Tuesday, Van Vleet was tracked down and arrested in Cassia County Idaho. He will be extradited back to San Diego to face charges, officials said.
“The San Diego Police Department’s mission is to ensure the safety of everyone and to ensure justice for those who would assault anyone, let alone a uniformed police officer in the performance of their official duties, rendering aid to a woman pending violent assault,” the department said in a statement.