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Police say a welfare check in a bathroom led to a pursuit on a highway

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--A Grand Forks man is in custody tonight -- after police say he punched an officer.

WDAZ's Kenneth Chase tells us why they say a welfare check took a bizarre turn.

It's here at the Loaf N Jug on Highway 2 where police say they were trying to ask a man to leave the bathroom. He took off on foot and walked right into traffic on Gateway Drive."  

"He'd gone into the bathroom. He'd been in there quite a bit of time. Initially he was making a bunch of noise and then that all stopped,” said Sgt. Travis Benson, of the Grand Forks Police Department.

Police say they were checking up on 20-year-old Hunter Belgarde.

After getting him to come out of the bathroom -- they asked him to leave the gas station's property.  

"He was advised he was just to move along, stay out of the street,” said Benson.

But he refused -- and walked right in front of a school bus on Highway 2 -- forcing it to come to a quick stop.

"This was just somebody that was intentionally trying to be disruptive,” said Benson.

That's when officers tried to arrest Belgarde -- but instead of getting him in a cruiser - he was able to jump in a stranger's car to get away.

"The guy jumped in the back of the pick up across the road down there and was trying to get away,” said witness, Jeff Linderman.

"I mean it was really like jeez what's going on here?" said Linderman.

Jeff Linderman was at work when he hear the yelling.

"They came running across and they were yelling at the guy and had their guns drawn. And they were telling the get his hands up over everything and the guy definitely was resisting them,” said Linderman.

Police say Belgarde was punching an officer while they were placing him under arrest.

"He was actively punching at one of the officers and one of the other officers was able to get him off,” said Benson.

Eventually they were able to get Belgarde in custody.

Authorities say they don't know what caused the commotion.

"We don't do any sort of toxicology under these sort of circumstances we're not sure if it was some sort of a mental induced incident or if he is under the influence of some sort of drug,” said Linderman.

One officer drove himself to Altru for a minor injury.

"Just you know something that happened. I'm glad no one got hurt really,” said Linderman.

People in the area say they're relieved a chase on a busy highway didn't end differently.

The jail did not have a mugshot to give WDAZ, and said Belgarde refused to have his picture taken.