Sebastopol police captured an alleged plant thief Friday in a chase that started when an assailant attacked a homeowner with pruning shears and ended several hours later when thesuspect was found hiding under a bridge along the Laguna trail.

Police said the incident began about 8:40 a.m. when they received a report of a man cutting blooms off an ornamental plant at a residence on Gravenstein Highway South. When the homeowner confronted the thief, police said he was attacked and stabbed in the head and arms with the cutting shears.

The thief probably wanted to use the cuttings to sell or to propagate other plants, police said.

After attempting to strangle the homeowner, the assailant fled, police said. Officers spotted what they thought was his car parked in a small shopping center next to the McDonald's restaurant on Gravenstein Highway South.

Sgt. Mike Nielsen said an unmarked police car was assigned to watch the suspect's car, which paid off about 12:14 p.m. when the car's owner got into the vehicle and quickly drove off.

Sebastopol police pursued the car, which went north on Gravenstein Highway into the center of town, took off onto side streets and then wound up in an open field behind the former Bradley Video store on Highway 12.

The suspect abandoned his car and fled on foot into the Laguna de Santa Rosa, but officers found him hiding under a small bridge on the Joe Rodota Trail.

Police charged Leo Brink, 51, with attempted murder, felony evasion of arrest and resisting arrest. The homeowner, whom police did not identify, suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from a local hospital.

You can reach Staff Writer Bleys W. Rose at 521-5431 or bleys.rose@pressdemocrat.com.