URBANA — A homeless man who allegedly stole a man's car from the campus area, tried to hit him and fled from police, all while police say he was under the influence of drugs, has been criminally charged.
Brandon R. Jones, 22, was arrested about 11 p.m. Tuesday in Savoy after police were able to stop the car he was in near Old Church Road and U.S. 45.
University of Illinois police Sgt. Tom Geis said the escapade involving Jones started about 10:30 p.m., when he allegedly took keys and a cellphone belonging to Cody Gudgel, 18, of Savoy, from the side of a basketball court on Gregory Drive near Oak Street where Gudgel was playing with friends.
A friend of Gudgel went to Gudgel's Honda Accord to get something, Geis said, and saw a man later identified as Jones rummaging through the car. The friend alerted Gudgel and then the two of them confronted Jones, who had locked himself in the car.
"As they try to coax him out, he starts the car and takes off and almost runs over Gudgel," Geis said, adding that Jones hit another parked car nearby.
Gudgel contacted police, who spotted the car headed west on Green Street near Prospect Avenue. UI police tried to get the driver to stop but he wouldn't. Champaign police and county sheriff's deputies also joined in the pursuit, which Geis said never exceeded speeds of 25 mph. Jones was stopping at every traffic light, Geis said, but was not pulling over for police who had on their lights and sirens.
He then turned south on Mattis Avenue and went to Old Church Road, turning back east.
"With the help of county deputies, we got him stopped at Old Church and South Dunlap Avenue (U.S. 45)," Geis said.
Geis said Jones smelled of burned cannabis and had a small amount of cannabis and a one-hitter pipe to smoke it. He also had Gudgel's cellphone.
Jones was charged Wednesday with aggravated driving under the influence of drugs, aggravated assault for allegedly trying to hit Gudgel, fleeing and eluding police, and possession of a stolen vehicle.