Lehigh Valley

Reckless riders: Allentown officer twice hit by dirt bike

He was treated for injured shoulder, released

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An Allentown police officer was injured before Wednesday night's hockey game at the PPL Center after being twice hit by someone on a dirt bike.

Police arrested Luis Cruz and Roberto Sanchez following a brief chase through the city.

A group of four or five people were riding dirt bikes in the area of Seventh and Hamilton streets and "menacing pedestrians" shortly before 6 p.m.before the game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders, according to Allentown police.

The dirt bike on which Cruz and Sanchez were riding allegedly struck a Allentown police officer and drove away, police said. Authorities pursued the riders to the area of the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital on South Fifth Street.

The chase took police over the Eighth Street Bridge, where the same officer was hit a second time. He injured his left shoulder and was treated and released from the hospital.

District Judge Wayne Maura arraigned the 19-year-old Sanchez early Thursday morning on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He was sent to Lehigh County Jail after failing to post $5,000 bail.

District Judge Ronald Manescu arraigned Cruz later Thursday morning, setting bail at $35,000. Police charged the 21-year-old with felony counts of aggravated assault and fleeing from police, misdemeanor counts of simple assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct and nine summary traffic offenses. He too failed to post bail.

Sanchez is tentatively scheduled for a Sept. 27 preliminary hearing, and Cruz's hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Police said the riders chased on Wednesday are "habitual offenders" and have been a "nuisance and danger to our community."

Authorities said the department has been using "unconventional methods" to arrest reckless riders and have made several arrests in the past few months. Police are asking that anyone who may have been in the Hamilton Street area on Wednesday or was "placed in harm's way" by the dirt bike riders call 610-437-7753.

In February, police arrested an 18-year-old after he allegedly tried to goad police into a chase on his dirt bike and eventually dragged an officer through a Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

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