Police Arrest Suspect Following Battery, Foot Pursuit, and Carjacking

Published on March 10, 2023

Palo Alto, CA Police arrested a man yesterday afternoon at the Stanford Shopping Center after he battered two transit employees, then fled from police on foot and attempted to carjack an occupied vehicle in traffic to get away before officers were able to take him into custody.  Police booked the suspect into jail for an array of charges.

On Thursday, March 9, 2023, at about 4:48 p.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Transit Police Bureau reporting a disturbance on board a SamTrans bus that had stopped in the area of Quarry Road and Arboretum Road, near the border of Palo Alto and Stanford University.  The call was updated with information that the suspect had battered the driver.

Upon arrival, an officer from the Palo Alto Police Department observed the suspect on foot running onto the property of Vi at Palo Alto at 620 Sand Hill Road.  The officer detained the suspect in the driveway of that facility without incident.  The suspect displayed signs of being under the influence of narcotics and handed the officer a pipe commonly used to smoke methamphetamine.  As other officers interviewed two transit drivers at the original scene, they advised that the suspect had battered both victims.  When police moved towards to the suspect to handcuff him, he ran away on foot.

Officers gave chase as the suspect ran back along Sand Hill Road.  In what police believe to be an attempt to carjack a vehicle to escape the scene, the suspect opened the passenger side door of a blue 2011 BMW sedan occupied by a woman in her fifties.  At the time, the vehicle was stopped in a traffic lane on Vineyard Lane at Sand Hill Road.  The suspect entered the vehicle with the woman and grabbed the steering wheel, but without anywhere to go and with officers approaching, the suspect got out of the victim’s car and continued running.

Officers were ultimately able to catch the suspect in the parking lot on the west side of Neiman Marcus at the Stanford Shopping Center and took him custody after a brief physical struggle.  Neither the suspect nor officers were injured during the chase or the arrest itself.  Police summoned paramedics to the scene anyway after the suspect’s breathing appeared to be labored.  Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department responded and cleared the suspect after medically evaluating him.

The investigation revealed that the suspect had forced open the doors of an out-of-service SamTrans bus occupied by a female transit driver in her thirties.  Scared for her safety, the driver ordered him to leave the bus multiple times before he did.  She then got off the bus as well and flagged down a second SamTrans transit driver (a man in his twenties) for assistance.  The suspect then spat in the face of the female driver, and when the male driver went to her aid, the suspect lunged at him and wrapped his arms around him.  The male driver was able to shove the suspect off him, and the suspect fled the area while they summoned police.

None of the three victims were physically injured or required medical treatment.  The carjacking victim later told police she had thought the suspect was going to hurt her and take her car.

Once back at the police station for processing, the suspect refused to provide his real name and gave multiple false names.  He also stated he had medical issues with his heart, so police again summoned paramedics for assistance.  Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department transported him to a local hospital for evaluation, where he was medically cleared for incarceration.

Police booked the suspect, 26-year-old Joshua Downs (a person with no permanent residential address), into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for one felony (carjacking) and six misdemeanors (two counts of battery on a transit employee, delaying a transit system, resisting arrest, providing false information to police, and possession of narcotics paraphernalia).  His booking photo appears above.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at (650) 329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to (650) 383-8984.

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