SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Police chased and arrested a panhandler in Springfield who reportedly stole a car at knifepoint in Eugene.
Anthony Byam, 22, is now in the Lane County Jail and faces felony charges.
Police say taking him into custody wasn’t easy. Byam’s wild encounter with police started just after 2 a.m. Sunday. Springfield Police Officer Brian Bragg spotted a car that was recently stolen car near 18th and Centennial. When he turned on his lights and sirens, the car immediately sped off.
“Kind of chased the car through the Bi-Mart parking lot and it jumped some curbs,” said Sgt. Pete Kirkpatrick, Springfield Police Department.
Byam then crashed through a brick wall surrounding a back-flow assembly that controls the water for a nearby business. Springfield Utility Board came out to shut the water off. Police say the car was totaled, and both Byam and a passenger in the car were taken to the hospital for minor injuries.
“He wasn’t injured enough to prevent him from getting out and running,” Kirkpatrick said.
Officer Bragg chased Byam for a few blocks and was finally able to bring him into custody near the Starbucks on 18th Street. Police say the stolen car belongs to a University of Oregon student who was reportedly robbed at knifepoint Saturday night near 13th Avenue and High Street in Eugene.
“The officers located evidence in the car of the robbery, including the knife,” Kirkpatrick said.
The 20-year-old says at about 5:30 p.m., he was approached by a panhandler, later identified as Byam. After giving him money, he says Byam pulled a knife out and demanded the car.
Though police do not encourage giving panhandlers money. They say the student did do what he was supposed to in the situation.
“Somebody’s holding a knife to you and you want to do what they’re saying and prevent something worse from happening,” Kirkpatrick said.
Eugene police say this case serves as a good reminder to always be aware of your surroundings.
As for the student who’s car was stolen, EPD says he did not have insurance to cover theft, so his car is a total loss.