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Police: Man who beat officer unconscious faces attempted murder charge

SAN DIEGO -- A homeless man was in custody Tuesday on suspicion of attacking a police officer at a fast-food restaurant near Parkway Plaza mall, beating him into unconsciousness before being arrested during a combative face-off with other officers in the middle of an adjacent street.

The events that led to the serious-injury assault began about 10 a.m. Monday, when transient Daniel Moses Cook, 42, allegedly robbed a Dollar Tree store at a strip mall in the 700 block of Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon, according to police.

Following the crime, the thief went to a nearby KFC and began stealing soft drinks from a soda fountain there, Lt. Rob Ransweiler said.

When a patrol officer investigating the thefts approached Cook inside the restaurant a short time later, the suspect allegedly turned violent, punching the officer and knocking him to the ground. The assault continued even after the victim lost consciousness, Ransweiler said.

After the assailant finally stopped beating the officer and left the area, a Metropolitan Transit System employee who had witnessed the attack used the victim's radio to call for help.

"Since the downed officer was alone, it may have taken much longer to get medical aid to him if it were not for the quick thinking and willingness to get involved of this good Samaritan," Ransweiler said.

Medics took the officer, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, to a hospital for treatment of extensive injuries.

The suspect fled into the middle of Fletcher Parkway, where he stood in a median and assumed a fighting stance as officers ordered him to surrender, according to Ransweiler.

Cook remained defiant until police shocked him into submission with an electric stun gun and took him into custody without further incident.

Cook -- who allegedly was carrying methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the time of his arrest -- was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of attempted murder, robbery, mayhem, issuance of criminal threats and narcotics offenses.

Cook was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The injured officer, whose name has been withheld, remained hospitalized Tuesday afternoon, Ransweiler said.