Palo Alto Weekly

News - December 7, 2012

News Digest

Gunman robs pharmacy of addictive pain reliever

A tall, thin man with a gun walked into the downtown Palo Alto Walgreens on Monday afternoon, Dec. 3, and robbed it of OxyContin, an addictive pain reliever.

The man walked into the drug store at 328 University Ave. shortly before 2:34 p.m., went to the pharmacy department and asked for help finding an over-the-counter medication.

A pharmacist walked him to the proper aisle, but once there, the man allegedly opened a messenger bag he had slung across his body so that the pharmacist could see his hand on the grip of a gun inside the bag.

He demanded OxyContin, a prescription pain reliever that is a controlled substance in California, and told the pharmacist he was addicted to opiates, police stated. The pharmacist returned to the pharmacy and gave the man a bottle of the drug. The man then walked out of the store and turned left onto Bryant Street.

Police set up a perimeter that covered most of downtown and searched for the man, who was described as white, in his 20s, about 6-feet to 6-feet-2-inches tall with a slim build and cropped hair. He was wearing a white baseball cap with the Seattle Seahawks logo, a gray fleece jacket and light pants and shoes. His medium-sized, tan-and-green messenger bag had a black strap.

Second assault reported in downtown Palo Alto

A woman sleeping near a downtown Palo Alto sidewalk was beaten by a man during a robbery attempt early Sunday morning, Dec. 2, police said. The attack occurred shortly after another robbery attempt a few blocks away.

Police believe the two incidents are likely related. Palo Alto police dispatch received a 911 call from a woman at about 1:20 a.m., reporting she had just been beaten. Officers arrived in the area about a minute later but were unable to locate the assailant.

The investigation revealed that the victim, a woman in her 70s, had been asleep in an alcove in the 300 block of University Avenue. She said she awoke to find a man reaching into the pockets of her outer clothing.

The man allegedly made a statement indicating he was looking for money. The victim pushed him away, but the man punched her numerous times in the head, face and chest before fleeing the scene, police said.

The victim described the suspect as of unknown race, between 18 and 22 years old and 5 feet 6 inches tall with a thin build. He was wearing a dark sweatshirt with a gray hood.

The incident occurred within 15 minutes of an attempted purse snatching in the 200 block of Homer Avenue. In that case, a man approached a woman from behind, pushed her to the ground and tried to take her purse. When she resisted, he punched her six to eight times in the face before fleeing, police said.

Officers are increasing high-visibility patrols in the downtown area. Police are asking that anyone who may have information about this crime to call 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Police: Driver at fault for hitting pedestrians

The 89-year-old driver of a Chevy Blazer that struck and seriously injured two women in an El Camino Real crosswalk in Atherton Sept. 30 was speeding and at fault for the collision, an Atherton Police Department investigation has concluded.

Police Lt. Joe Wade said Willie Haynes of Palo Alto had been traveling southbound on El Camino around noon at 48 mph in the 35-mph zone.

The women suffered major injuries but survived.

Just before the impact at Isabella Avenue, Haynes had slowed his vehicle to 37 mph, Wade said. He remained at the scene after the collision and voluntarily submitted to a blood test for drugs and alcohol, police said at the time.

The case was forwarded to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office for review, but the police department is not recommending that criminal charges be filed, he said.

The Sept. 30 collision happened two years to the day that 62-year-old Christopher Chandler of Redwood City was struck and killed in the same crosswalk while riding his bicycle across the six-lane thoroughfare.

— Renee Batti

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