The mayor of a Riverside County community was arrested late Thursday on suspicion of DUI after a crash that injured four members of a high school cheer team, according to police.
Murrieta Mayor Alan Long, 44, was booked on suspicion of DUI causing bodily injury, according to Riverside County jail records. He was arrested Thursday night after a crash at Jefferson and Lily avenues in Murrieta in southwestern Riverside County.
Officers determined that a "full-size" truck had rear-ended a passenger vehicle carrying four Murrieta Valley High School students, ages 14 to 17. The students' injuries were described as "moderate to major," according to a police department statement.
"Officers contacted the driver of the truck who was the sole occupant of his vehicle," police said in a statement. "The driver had signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol impairment. The driver participated in some standardized field sobriety tests, and officers determined that the driver was in fact impaired."
Long's blood alcohol content was .07, just below the legal limit of .08, but investigators were also waiting for blood test results, police said.
Karen Parris, a spokeswoman for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, said one of the four injured female students, members of the school cheer team, remained hospitalized Friday. She is expected to make a full recovery.
The girls had just attended a pep rally ahead of Friday night's football game.
An attorney for Long, who's hoping to be re-elected in two weeks, said he helped the victims at the scene, talked to their parents and cooperated with police.
"Long is concerned for the well-being of the teenagers and while he admits he was involved in an accident, he does not believe he committed a crime," the attorney said.
He was booked into jail on $50,000 bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
Long also serves as a battalion chief for Anaheim Fire and Rescue.
A court date was scheduled for Dec. 11.
Residents had mixed reactions.
Melissa Young said the arrest would influence her vote.
"It's sad," she said. "There's other options besides drinking and driving."
Kathy Huerta said she was saddened.
"But at the same time -- 'Go Alan!'" said Huerta, who has known the mayor since he was a child.
She said it was a rare lapse in judgment.
"He is a solid, wonderful person," she said. "He runs 24/7, OK? He's tired. He is being bombarded by everybody and their brother on a normal daily basis."
Murrieta Councilman Rick Gibbs told the Riverside Press-Enterprise, "This is certainly very much out of character for Alan Long.
"I've been at a number of social events with Alan over the years, ... and I've never seen him take a drink."
Long was in the national spotlight earlier this year when a busload of undocumented immigrants, bound for the Murrieta Border Patrol Station for processing, was blocked by protesters.
Long criticized the federal government's handling of the immigrant transfer, part of a plan to alleviate what the Obama administration as a humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors in federal custody along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Kim Baldonado contributed to this report.