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Santa Maria man arrested for attempted murder after allegedly ramming patrol car, initiating high-speed chase

Santa Maria man arrested for attempted murder after allegedly ramming patrol car, initiating high-speed chase

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A 25-year-old Santa Maria man was arrested for attempted murder after ramming into a patrol vehicle and injuring an officer early Sunday following a high-speed pursuit from Highway 246 to Santa Maria that reached speeds of nearly 100 mph.

Anthony Michael Zuniga, who was originally wanted on a felony warrant linked to a separate pursuit a week ago, was arrested in the 700 block of East Oak Street, according to Santa Maria Police Sgt. Nate Totorica. 

Police initially located Zuniga driving a maroon Chevy Blazer in the area of West Chapel and North Lincoln streets on Saturday night. An officer attempted a traffic stop, but Zuniga allegedly evaded police and initiated a pursuit, according to Totorica. The officer stopped pursuing Zuniga shortly after 7:30 p.m. as a safety precaution. 

Later in the evening, Totorica said, police located the vehicle parked on the side of the road in a different location in the city and attempted to make contact with Zuniga, who was inside the vehicle.

Zuniga allegedly smashed into a Santa Maria Police Department patrol vehicle, causing minor injuries to an officer, and drove away. 

Totorica said Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials then pinged Zuniga's cellphone and located him in the Lompoc area. They tracked Zuniga to Highway 101, where he headed northbound at speeds approaching 100 mph. Eight sheriff's vehicles and a police helicopter pursued Zuniga, according to Santa Barbara County sheriff's spokeswoman Raquel Zick.

Zuniga exited the Main Street off-ramp in Santa Maria and gave himself up less than a mile away after being located, Totorica said. 

Patrol units from the Santa Maria Police Department weren't involved in the final pursuit but arrived on scene at its conclusion and assisted with arrest, he added. 

Zuniga was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder, evading a police officer and a probation violation. His bail was set at $1 million. 

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