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Riverside County sheriff's deputy dragged by fleeing suspects

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. - A Riverside County sheriff's deputy was injured today when he was dragged by a moving vehicle with a suspected drug user at the wheel.

The driver of the vehicle, not yet identified, was arrested about a half-hour later following a high-speed chase that went from Moreno Valley into downtown Riverside.

The confrontation with the deputy occurred around 10:50 a.m. in the parking lot of a 99 Cent Only store at Cottonwood Avenue and Perris Boulevard, according to sheriff's officials.

The deputy spotted two men in a four-door Dodge Neon, thought they were behaving suspiciously and approached to investigate.

When he looked inside, the deputy said he saw the two suspects who appeared to be shooting up with heroin and tried to arrest the driver, who immediately floored the sedan, dragging the deputy about 10 feet and possibly running over one of his legs, according to reports from the scene.

A dragnet was immediately deployed, with deputies fanning out across the city, looking for the white Neon. About 15 minutes later, deputies spotted the car parked in an alleyway off of Alessandro Boulevard, just north of March Air Reserve Base.

The car was occupied only by the driver, who raced out of the alley -- nearly striking a sheriff's patrol unit -- and headed onto northbound Interstate 215, according to sheriff's broadcasts.

Deputies pursued the Neon into the city of Riverside, where the chase reached speeds of 90 mph as the suspect fled north on Martin Luther King Boulevard and then over to University Avenue before heading onto the westbound Riverside (91) Freeway.

The suspect exited the freeway at Central Avenue, racing north past the Riverside Plaza shopping center, then turning back west on Magnolia Avenue, with sheriff's units, Riverside police and one California Highway Patrol officer in pursuit.

According to Riverside police, a patrol car rammed the Neon at Brockton and Magnolia avenues, at which point the suspect attempted to flee on foot but was quickly apprehended.

The whereabouts of the second suspect, described only as a Hispanic man wearing a Los Angeles Lakers basketball jersey, were not immediately known.

The injured deputy was transported to Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he was being treated for a non-life-threatening leg injury.

No other injuries were reported.

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