By: Nikie Johnson, dailybulletin.com
A wildfire that has damaged some homes in Riverside was started Monday by a vehicle-theft suspect who torched the vehicle and some vegetation in the Santa Ana River bottom as sheriff’s deputies were trying to catch him, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.
Before setting the fires, the suspect also rammed the stolen vehicle into a patrol car, causing a deputy to shoot at him, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.
The suspect — convicted felon Clinton Jeffrey Althizer, 40, of Jurupa Valley — was not injured, officials said. The deputy whose car was hit was taken to a hospital as a precaution. Two Riverside Police Department officers who suffered minor injuries while helping to arrest Althizer also were treated at a hospital.
The Riverdale fire had burned 40 acres and was 50 percent contained by late Monday, Riverside fire officials said. About 20 homes in a neighborhood near the riverbottom — which is often dry — were evacuated for several hours. No houses were destroyed, but a few sustained minor damage from embers being blown by strong Santa Ana winds, officials said.
Althizer then drove off and a pursuit ensued, officials said. Althizer abandoned the vehicle and fled into the riverbottom near Riverdale Place, about 3 1/2 miles from where the chase started. That’s when he set the fires, officials said.
Strong winds quickly fanned the flames through the fire-prone riverbottom and toward houses.
Riverside police officers helped locate Althizer, who was arrested after a brief struggle, officials said. He was medically evaluated at a hospital before being booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, attempted assault on a peace officer, arson, receiving stolen property, evading police, resisting arrest and violating probation, jail records show. Bail was set at $100,000.
The deputy who fired at Althizer was placed on administrative leave, per Sheriff’s Department policy. The deputy’s name has not been released.
Sheriff’s officials asked anyone with information about the incident to contact homicide investigators — who investigate all deputy-involved shootings, even non-fatal ones — at 951-955-2777.
Althizer — who also has used the last name Cain, court records say — has an extensive criminal record in Riverside County dating to 1997. He’s been convicted of crimes including vehicle theft, attempted vehicle theft, operating a chop shop, child cruelty, battery on a peace officer, receiving stolen property, drug possession, resisting arrest, and striking, beating, stabbing, shooting or poisoning a police dog or horse, according to court records.
© Copyright 2017 StarChase.com | All Rights Reserved