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Blood drive for sheriff's deputy Ali Perez

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Blood drives were under way Wednesday for two sheriff's deputies who were shot with a high-powered rifle while investigating a child abuse suspect in Lakeside last month.

One of the blood drives is at the La Mesa Police Department on University Avenue until 3 p.m., and the other is taking place until 4 p.m. at Millennium Laboratories in Rancho Bernardino, at 16981 Via Tazon.

Sgt. Craig Johnson and Detective Ali Perez were shot in front of an apartment in the 12700 block of Mapleview Street, where they had gone to question Daniel Robert Witczak, 30, about an allegation that he had sexually assaulted his live-in girlfriend's 6-year-old daughter, authorities said.

Johnson is recovering at home with a wound to his arm, while Perez remains hospitalized.

Perez is doing much better and is out of intensive care, Sheriff Bill Gore told CBS 8 at the La Mesa blood drive.

"He's still got some surgeries down the road, he's got some internal injuries they're watching very closely for any kind of infection, he's got some surgeries on his left arm and shoulder that still remain to be done, but everything so far has been positive and we're hoping for a full recovery," Gore said.

The drive at Millennium Laboratories was organized by a research scientist who is a member of the sheriff's search-and-rescue team.

"(The deputies) risked their lives to protect our community and our children," said James Slattery, CEO of the provider of drug testing and monitoring equipment. "These men are heroes and it is beholden on us, this same community they so valiantly serve, to answer the call to help and donate blood with the San Diego Blood Bank."

Blood collected at the drives will be used for the deputies' care, while other blood not matching their blood types will be put into general use at the Blood Bank.

Witczak, who was also injured in the shootout, faces several counts of attempted murder of a peace officer.

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