Mesa police shoot at suspect who allegedly drove toward officer while fleeing

Sep 6, 2021, 9:47 AM | Updated: Sep 7, 2021, 6:59 am
(Facebook Photo, File/City of Mesa Police Department)...
(Facebook Photo, File/City of Mesa Police Department)
(Facebook Photo, File/City of Mesa Police Department)

PHOENIX — Mesa police took a suspect into custody who was part of an officer-involved shooting after he allegedly ran into a patrol car and drove toward an officer while fleeing on Sunday, authorities said.

Police said they located the suspect, later identified as Diego Varela on Monday morning. He had escaped officers following the incident Sunday night.

Varela, 23, was booked on two counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement, three counts of endangerment and one count of leaving the scene of a vehicle collision.

Officers responded to a welfare check call near Southern Avenue and Alma School Road around 7 p.m. and found a man and a woman who appeared to be unconscious inside a running vehicle, the Mesa Police Department said in a press release.

When police woke Varela, they said he reversed into a marked patrol car then went forward over a sidewalk as he attempted to leave through an apartment complex greenbelt.

An officer exited his car after he pursued the vehicle into the greenbelt area when Varela made a U-turn and drove at the officer, police said.

Police said an officer shot at the truck.

Varela was taken to a hospital for “personal medical reasons.”

The passenger, identified as Melissa Hidalgo, 26, was booked on probation violation.

No additional information was made available.

It was the sixth shooting of the year involving the Mesa Police Department and 38th overall by Valley law enforcement, according to KTAR News 92.3 FM research.

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Mesa police shoot at suspect who allegedly drove toward officer while fleeing