Modesto police chased a panhandler onto Highway 99 on Thursday afternoon, closing the highway's southbound lanes for about a minute as they arrested him.
The panhandler had run from police in the Target parking lot in the 3900 block of Sisk Road. He ran across Sisk, climbed over the chain-link fence and entered the highway, said Sgt. Brian Findlen, a department spokesman.
Traffic slowed and stopped as the man jumped on car hoods and tried to get into cars by opening their doors, Findlen said. He crossed the northbound lanes and ended up standing between the cab and trailer of a stopped big rig in the southbound lanes.
An officer held the man at gunpoint until two other officers arrived and arrested him. Findlen said police closed the southbound lanes for about a minute.
Findlen said the man is wanted on a felony warrant for assault with a deadly weapon in Sacramento. Findlen identified the man as 23-year-old Sacramento resident Odis Primes, who was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail.
"This suspect put our officers in danger," Findlen said, "very obviously by running across the freeway and forcing them to chase him. We are thankful there were no injuries."
Findlen said the incident started at 1:39 p.m. when police received several reports of aggressive panhandlers in front of the Target store. Findlen said three men were demanding money from people and blocking them from entering the store.
He said two of the panhandlers and a woman who was with them did not run when police arrived. He said they were questioned but not arrested.
Findlen said the officers' actions were appropriate in chasing the man.
"This man in particular generated several calls for service," he said. "Citizens of this city require that we take care of the problem in a timely manner, and that is what happened. Our job is to arrest people as soon as possible. We can't let people run from us."
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.