The mayor of Murrieta, California, who led a local backlash against the arrival of undocumented Central American immigrants flooding the U.S. border, has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in an accident that injured four teenagers.
Mayor Alan Long was arrested late Thursday on suspicion of causing injury while driving under the influence after his truck crashed into a car carrying four Murrieta Valley High School students, Murrieta police said in a statement.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that the car rear-ended by the mayor’s vehicle contained four cheerleaders. The police said all four suffered “moderate to major injuries.”
Long was still at the scene of the crash when police arrived, police said.
“The driver had signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol impairment,” the statement said, adding the officers determined that he “was in fact impaired” after administering field sobriety tests. No one was immediately available at the police department to furnish further details.
Long, 44, who has served as a battalion chief with the Anaheim Fire Department, was elected by voters in Murrieta, about 60 miles north of San Diego, in November 2010. The city website says he also volunteers as a Sunday school teacher, athletic coach and crisis counselor for at-risk youth.
He came to national prominence in June and July when he led a public outcry over U.S. plans for hundreds of Central American children and adults caught illegally crossing from Mexico into Texas to be transferred to a U.S. Border Patrol office in Murrieta for processing.
After the city’s website posted messages decrying the transfer plan, along with the Border Patrol station’s address, a group of angry protesters showed up to block the arrival of buses carrying the undocumented minors to the facility, forcing the caravan to turn around.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said at the time he found TV images of the demonstration “very disturbing.”
Long, who was not present at the protest, later defended his actions, saying the city had legitimate concerns about public health and safety.
Long was released from jail early Friday on $50,000 bond, the detention center’s website said. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 11.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was unable to say whether Long was represented by an attorney. The mayor’s office did not respond to a call and an email Friday afternoon seeking comment.
(Reporting by Marty Graham; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Beech)