News

Suspect at large in violent downtown robbery

Palo Alto police seek one of three suspects who assaulted, robbed man downtown on Tuesday night

Palo Alto police are looking for one of three suspects who beat up, robbed and threatened to stab a pedestrian on Hamilton Avenue on Tuesday night.

The strong-arm robbery occurred at around 11:30 p.m. on the 400 block of Hamilton Avenue, between Waverley and Cowper Streets. Police said the victim, a man in his 30s, was walking west on Hamilton when a man jumped onto his back, knocking him to the ground. Three people then surrounded him, punched him in the face and possibly kicked him, police said. One suspect allegedly threatened to stab the victim and demanded his property. The man handed over his cell phone and credit cards, after which time the three attackers walked away on foot, heading east on Hamilton.

After the robbery, the victim ran over to the police department, which is located about two blocks away from the robbery scene, to report that he had just been robbed. Palo Alto police immediately went to the site, but could not find the suspects. They relayed the descriptions to surrounding agencies.

Within the hour, a Menlo Park officer who heard this description spotted three individuals who matched it in East Palo Alto, at the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and O'Connor Street. When he approached them, one of the three ran away, police said. The other two, both 16-year-old residents from East Palo Alto, were detained and arrested for robbery after the victim's property was found in their possession.

Both were booked at the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall. Because they are both minors, police aren't releasing their identities. Neither had a knife, police said.

The third suspect remains at large, police said. He was described as a black male, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a medium build and wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt.

Police said the victim suffered minor injuries to his face and to one of his feet and did not require medical attention. They do not believe the robbery is connected to any other recent robberies in Palo Alto.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984

Comments

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Absolutely terrifying! I'm happy to hear that at least some of the suspects were arrested & that the victim is okay. This story reminds me of the terrible murder years ago of Bert Kay, on Gilman St., just off Hamilton.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Pretty scary. I regularly walk alone in that area late at night, dressed in black, but worry more about some aspiring vigilante mistaking me for a mugger. People do tend to cross to the other side of the street if they notice me.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Good and fast work catching these "suspects". [Portion removed.]

Recently it was reported that 3 men robbed the Midtown 7-11, I don't supposed we would be lucky enough that these are the same three thugs?

PA Online, please report on this case through to conviction and disposition, a lot of us want to know what happens to people who rob and beat innocent pedestrians in the heart of our town! Please!

I'd also like to know how they selected their victim. Were they driving around looking for someone to prey on. That could mean that any of us just taking a walk around the neighborhood might be robbed or attacked. Is there any plan for the police to step up patrols?

Best wishes and my sincere condolences to the victim. I hope he is OK and is not traumatized by these thugs. This kind of crime should not be happening in our town.


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Posted by Anymouse
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2013 at 12:59 pm

@CrescentParkAnon:

As I'm sure you are aware, the article stated the two apprehended were underage. I hope they do charge them as adults. It is alarming, to me, the amount of crime happening in Palo Alto of recent.

I've just posted a topic on the Town Square Forum asking what time residents will be shutting their lights off, on Halloween.

Kudos to PAPD and MPPD, for swift action on their part! And to the victim, for getting directly to the PAPD to report the robbery.


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Posted by Time-For-A-Change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

> Both were booked at the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall. Because
> they are both minors, police aren't releasing their identities.

It is really unsettling that the law seems to allow these young people the freedom to move about in our communities, even allows them to have a driver's license .. yet, when they demonstrate their tendencies toward crime, rather than social behavior .. that same law protects them by disallowing the publication of their names when booked.

It's time to recognize that people this young, who are committing these sorts of crimes, should have to bear the full weight of the consequences--such as being treated as an adult by the legal system.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Agree with the previous two comments. 16 is old enough to know that you may not assault people and threaten to kill them in order to have their possessions. Threatening to "stab someone" is threatening to kill them. "Stab" is "kill." These criminals should be tried and sentenced as adults. By attacking an innocent individual and threatening murder, they have relinquished their rights as citizens. Thank you to both police departments for excellent work.
@musical - Is there a point to your comment?


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by balderash
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Mandy
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm

This certainly is scary! I'm so glad the victim is safe and hope crimes like these do not continue in our community. I do not appreciate having to worry about safety while walking around Palo Alto.

While I do not believe the perpetrators should be free to do as they like, I do wish the justice system and society would do more for them. I study child and adolescent development, and research shows that the environment can play an important role in one's social development. I don't think putting these youths in Juvenile Hall will solve the problem since they will only become more alienated. There needs to be more early interventions for these youths since they are already at a disadvantage at birth. Kids that grow up in East Palo Alto do not have anywhere near the amount and quality of resources that kids in Palo Alto do.

By age 16, people should know that beating someone up is wrong, but their prefrontal cortices are still in development, and there is still time for them to decide what kind of adults they want to become. I hope these youths will receive the resources they need to become the best adults that they can be and contribute good to their communities.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Bru is a registered user.

The comment about the driver's license gave me the idea - we should pass a law that says all minors in possession of a driver's license will automatically be presumed to be adults when it comes to committing crimes. This would not have to mean minors that do not have a license could not be charged, just that those who choose to be in the adult world and drive willingly submit to being treated as adults in the criminal justice system.

I understand Mandy's point about children, underprivileged or problem and being merciful and humane, but our society is so screwed up and does not seem to be moving in a direction as to make being lenient anything other than an enabler of further criminality. If any of us could personally look into the lives of these thugs, as the NSA can, and see what they are really like, what they really say to their friends, what they have done in the past, etc ... I would feel better about considering the human factors, but we cannot. What we often get is some well meaning 'idiot' ... sorry for using that term, that thinks they are doing good by telling nice stories about how troubled kids can be saved, and more often than not they are being played for a fool. The only way to end that is to retreat to the primary reality that we need people like this out of our space and in jail. If they decide to rehabilitate themselves, great, but it should be on them to prove it, not just because they are cute and sympathetic looking youngsters.

There's also no way to can measure someone's prefrontal cortex ... most people's prefrontal cortexes are developed enough that they do not rob and threaten to stab other people - especially two blocks from the police station.

Look on these guy's mp3 players and I bet you find all kinds of violent rap music and their heroes are thugs as well. I could be wrong, but without that knowledge I and I think others should be really skeptical of being lenient in a case like this.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Before the crime even happened, the fact that 3 teens were out that late, driving around, is indicative of lack of care, structure, rules & boundaries in their homes. Obvious? Yes, of course! That's my point.


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Posted by rick
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

rick is a registered user.

If you equate lack of care, structure, rules & boundaries with propensity to rob people, then are you implying that teens are innately evil, or just inexplicably ignorant that robbery is wrong? I didn't have a car as a teen, but was often out late with my peers driving around, and such mischief not only never crossed our minds but would have been abhorrent to us. We'd often end up at Stickneys drinking 50-cent hot chocolates.


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Posted by Tecsi
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 4, 2013 at 9:16 am

Tecsi is a registered user.

I would be interested to learn the motivations and thinking of the assailants.

Was mugging their source of ongoing income, or was this for extra income? Was their a need for money to buy drugs?

And what did they perceive to be the risk profile? Did they assume they would easily get away with this? Was the risk of being charged and sent to jail a concern for them or no big deal?

(btw, it would seem better to have newest comments listed first for faster catch up)


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