Man sentenced for stealing van, trying to run down deputies

VISTA, Calif. -- A homeless man who stole a minivan and tried to run down several deputies was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday.

Kevin Ernesto Meza was arrested on Nov. 26, 2017, following a chase and crash.

The incident began about 3 a.m. when deputies at the Valley Center substation received a radio call to be on the lookout for a stolen Honda Odyssey. Officers spotted the van near Valley View Casino and, with the help of San Pasqual Tribal Police, deputies attempted to stop it.

Deputies pursued the van until the driver stopped briefly. When they approached the van on foot, Meza attempted to ram one of the deputies, who opened fire. Meza sped off, made a U-turn and sped toward the deputies again, who fired more shots into the vehicle.

The stolen van struck two patrol cars and became disabled, and Meza, who was not wounded, was taken into custody. At the time of his arrest, the prosecutor says deputies discovered a dog inside the van that had apparently been struck by gunfire. The dog was treated and later released.