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Fleeing suspect jacks three cars, critically injures motorcyclist on 99

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POSTED September 4, 2011 1:15 a.m.

Determined to get away from officers a Manteca man reportedly ran onto Highway 99 stopping traffic before committing a series of three carjackings as well as critically injuring a motorcyclist Saturday night.

Manteca Police spokesman officer Jason Hensley said that Brett Phares, 27, was first observed by patrolman Jason Massey about 6:40 p.m. near the Carl’s Junior fast food restaurant near Highway 99 south of Yosemite Avenue.

Massey recognized Phares as someone officers wanted to question about past crimes that occurred in Manteca as well as for a Friday night pursuit down Highway 99 where he allegedly eluded officers just south of Austin Road at about 8 p.m. He had reportedly bailed out of his car at that point and fled on foot.

Hensley said Phares was apparently “spooked” when he saw officers move into the area of the restaurant and sprinted across the southbound lanes of the 99 freeway and then ran across the northbound lanes to a commercial business area on Yosemite Avenue.

Patrol units had quickly moved into that area to set up a perimeter. Once again Phares saw them and fled on foot. He ran back across the freeway causing traffic to come to a stop in the southbound lanes. He reportedly pulled a motorist from a car as a group of motorcycles were breaking to a stop behind the vehicle. As he was allegedly forcing the driver out of the vehicle one of the motorcyclists was thrown airborne from his motorcycle and sustained critical injuries, officers said.

With most of the responding officers on foot at that point, Phares drove off on Highway 99 in a southbound direction similar to the pursuit the night before. Two Manteca patrol units intercepted the car at Austin Road where they initiated a pursuit that reached speeds of 95 miles per hour.

Ripon Police joined in the pursuit as it went through that community to be picked up by CHP officers in Modesto. Another car was reportedly hijacked in Modesto as the man continued to flee southbound toward Merced, police said.

The Modesto CHP units at one point cancelled their pursuit because of the dangerous and reckless driving by the suspect. With sketchy reports coming from other agencies, Phares allegedly carjacked a third vehicle in Merced and headed back northbound on Highway 99 making it all the way into Modesto where officers were able to stop the suspect and make the arrest at about 9:15.

There was no report of Phares using a weapon in the carjackings. In Manteca it was believed it may have just been calling out for help as a ploy when he took the car. There was no Manteca officer injured in the incident or patrol cars damaged.

There was no further word on the condition of the motorcycle rider who was injured at Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue in the freeway traffic.

Officer Hensley lauded Manteca Sgt. Mike Sexon for his excellent job in coordinating the multiple events and crime scenes during a very short period of time. He also offered his department’s appreciation for the mutual aid response from the other police agencies during the pursuit.

Altogether, seven law enforcement agencies in three counties were involved.

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