A Riverside police officer was injured Thursday while chasing a suspected arsonist down a steep slope on Mount Rubidoux, where a fire department investigator ultimately apprehended the suspect.
The foot pursuit began shortly before 10 a.m. and ended roughly 45 minutes later on the north-facing slope of the downtown landmark, above Carlson Dog Park.
According to Officer Ryan Railsback, hikers using the paved trails that circle Mount Rubidoux first reported seeing a man attempting to ignite fires sometime before 9 a.m. A fire department arson investigator went to the area but could not locate the suspect and left, Railsback said.
He said at 9:30 a.m., 911 dispatchers received additional reports regarding the same individual attempting to start a fire near the main trail.
“One of our officers responded with the arson investigator, a fire captain, and they went up the mountain looking for the guy,” Railsback told City News Service. “They couldn’t find him, so our police helicopter flew over, and the crew spotted him 50 feet below the trail and directed the investigator and our officer to his location.”
The captain and patrolman attempted to detain the man, who allegedly ran away, triggering a precarious foot pursuit down the rocky slope, according to Railsback.
A Riverside police sergeant arrived moments later but was still walking up the trail when the fireman and officer started down the mountainside.
Railsback said the suspect was unable to elude his two pursuers, but as the patrolman drew closer to make an arrest, he fell, injuring his knee.
“We don’t know whether it’s broken, but he couldn’t walk on it,” Railsback said.
The fire captain took the suspect into custody without a struggle.
According to Railsback, fire personnel effected a technical rescue, hoisting the injured officer back onto the main trail, where he was taken by ambulance to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment of the non-life-threatening injury.
The identity of the suspect was not immediately released.
Railsback said the man was being questioned, and the investigation was continuing.