A man still at large allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint in downtown Palo Alto early Monday morning, police said.
Around 1:27 a.m., Palo Alto police received a call from a man who said he had been robbed in the last 10 minutes in the 200 block of Hamilton Avenue, near City Hall. He had gone to an open business in the 400 block of Emerson Street to call police; officers arrived to check the area but were unable to find the alleged robber.
The man, who is in his forties, had been walking eastbound on the north sidewalk of the 200 block of Hamilton around 1:15 a.m. when he was approached from behind by the alleged robber, who called out and demanded his cell phone and wallet, police said. When the man turned around, he saw the alleged robber was holding a black semi-automatic handgun. He initially had it pointed at the ground, but when the man did not immediately hand over his cell phone and wallet, he pulled back the slide on the gun as if to load a round, police said.
The man complied, giving over his cell phone and wallet. The alleged robber then ordered him to walk away eastbound on Hamilton Avenue; when he eventually looked back to see if he could see the alleged robber, he was gone. He did not see or hear a vehicle associated with the alleged robber. He was not injured, police said.
The man described the alleged robber as a light-skinned male of an unknown race, about 30 years old, five feet 10 inches tall and about 175 pounds with a medium build. Police said he was wearing dark sunglasses, a dark colored beanie, a dark long-sleeve shirt and dark pants at the time. The man who was robbed met with a police artist to produce a sketch (included with this story).
Detectives are actively investigating this case, which is the first armed robbery in Palo Alto in more than three months, police said.
The Menlo Park Police Department also investigated a similar armed robbery that happened at about 6:40 p.m. on Sunday, July 13, on Gilbert Avenue near Pope Street (less than two miles from this robbery). In that case, a white male dressed in manner similar to the alleged robber in Palo Alto and also armed with a semi-automatic pistol robbed two teens of their cell phones and wallets. Detectives from the two agencies are collaborating on the cases to determine if the same suspect is responsible. For more information about the Menlo Park case, contact Nicole Acker of the Menlo Park Police Department at 650-330-6325.
Anyone with information about the Palo Alto robbery is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.