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82-year-old breaks ankle in struggle with knife-wielding carjacker

A man was arrested Sunday morning after he allegedly carjacked a van from an 82-year-old man who refused to be an easy victim.

Around 7:23 a.m., the victim was driving east on Jackson Street in his 2006 Odyssey van on his way to the gym and stopped for a red light on Central Avenue.

The suspect, Christopher Cody Willard, 26, who was walking, approached the van, opened the door and threatened the man with a knife, demanding he get out of the vehicle.

The victim, who was “clearly in good physical condition,” reacted, said Medford police Detective Sgt. Brent Mak.

“He kicks the suspect in the groin with his left foot and grabs the knife hand and pulls the suspect down,” Mak said.

Willard fell into the van, where he and the victim struggled over the knife. Meanwhile, the van rolled forward into oncoming traffic and up and over the opposite curb, where it struck a sign and then a rock, slamming the door on the victim’s foot and causing “extensive damage,” Mak said.

While still grappling for the knife, the victim was able to back up the car, free his foot and get out of the car. Willard fled the scene in the van.

Less than 10 minutes later, Cpl. Tom Venables spotted the stolen van heading north on Highway 62 in White City. Venables bumped the van with his patrol car and forced the van into a spin. However, Willard was able to regain control of his vehicle and continue.

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police and Eagle Point police assisted, and officers deployed spike strips, which Willard managed to skirt.

Willard pulled over around 7:47 a.m. near the intersection of Agate Road and Mountain View Drive but refused to exit the vehicle.

The standoff lasted about an hour and a half and finally ended when the Medford police SWAT team subdued Willard by Taser and took him into custody at 9:17 a.m., Mak said.

Willard was jailed on charges of first-degree robbery, third-degree robbery, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, menacing, third-degree assault and attempting to elude police. His bail was set at $1.07 million.

Correction: This story and headline have been updated with correct information.

82-year-old breaks ankle in struggle with knife-wielding carjacker