The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested a Pearl River man Thursday on a count of attempted murder of a police officer after he punched a female deputy and tried to run over her, according to a news release.

The deputy was answering a call about a suspicious person passed out behind the wheel of a vehicle on 16th Section Road in the Pearl River area early Thursday afternoon. She found an apparently “impaired” John Blackledge, 29, lying back in the driver’s seat of a white Nissan Sentra, the news release says.

She asked him to get out and was patting him down when he pushed her into a ditch and began punching her before fleeing into the woods, according to the news release.

Authorities said the deputy chased him, but Blackledge circled back to his car, placed it in reverse and struck the deputy with the front fender as she tried to handcuff him.

The deputy, who was knocked to the ground, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

Deputies responding to calls for backup saw the car speeding off, and a high-speed chase began through Pearl River, with Blackledge at times driving on the shoulder or against traffic, according to the news release.

Blackledge hit another vehicle before crashing into a ditch near La. 41 and La. 41 Spur, the release says. He fled on foot again but was caught and taken into custody.

Blackledge was arrested on counts of attempted murder of a police officer and aggravated flight. He also was wanted on several warrants for narcotics violations.

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