Man arrested on suspicion of attacking SamTrans bus drivers and stealing cars

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PALO ALTO – A 26-year-old man was arrested Thursday afternoon in Palo Alto on suspicion of spitting in the face of a bus driver and wrapping his arms around another before fleeing officers and trying to steal a woman’s car, said the police.

Officers were called to Quarry and Arboretum Roads shortly before 5 pm to report a disturbance on a SamTrans bus, the Palo Alto Police Department said in a statement. They arrived to see a man running into a retirement community at 620 Sand Hill Road.

One officer detained the man, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and handed over a pipe, while others questioned the drivers at the first scene, police said.

One of the drivers, a woman in her 30s, told officers the man had forced open the doors of her out-of-service bus. She ordered him to leave several times before he did. The woman then got off the bus to ask another SamTrans driver for help.

“The suspect then spat in the driver’s face,” police said, “and when the driver went to help her, the suspect pounced on him and hugged him.”

The driver pushed him and the man fled the scene while the drivers called the police.

Back at the retirement community, the man fled from officers when they went to handcuff him, police said.

Officers pursued the man, who at one point opened the passenger door of a blue 2011 BMW sedan occupied by a 50-year-old woman who had stopped at Sand Hill Road and Vineyard Lane, police said. The man allegedly grabbed the steering wheel, but then got out of the car and continued running.

The chase ended in a Stanford Shopping Center parking lot, where officers apprehended the man after a “brief physical struggle.” No injuries were reported during the chase or arrest, but paramedics were called when the man’s breathing appeared labored. He was cleared by the Palo Alto Fire Department.

At the police station, the man refused to give his real name and told officers he had heart problems, police said. The man was taken to a hospital for evaluation and released a second time.

Police said the man was booked into the Santa Clara County Prison in San Jose on charges of grand theft auto, assault on a transit official, delaying the transit system, resisting arrest, providing false information to police. and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Neither the bus drivers nor the carjacking victim were physically injured, police said.

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