Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 5, 2013

News Digest

San Jose man charged with robberies in Palo Alto

A man who police believe used a handgun to rob stores and banks throughout the region, including a Walgreens and a bank in Palo Alto, was arrested in Milpitas March 20.

Hunter D. Thompson, 32, was arrested and charged with several counts of robbery after an investigation by Milpitas police linked him to a robbery of a Chase Bank. A follow-up investigation later led Palo Alto officers to the conclusion that the San Jose resident was also the man behind a December robbery in Walgreens on University Avenue and the robbery at Provident Credit Union in January.

In both of those cases, a man flashed a handgun and walked away from the scene. In the Walgreens incident on Dec. 3, the man allegedly asked a pharmacist for assistance, took her aside, showed her the handle of a gun in his messenger bag, told her he is addicted to opiates and demanded oxycontin, a pain reliever listed as a controlled substance in California. The pharmacist gave him a bottle of oxycontin, and the man left.

The Provident Credit Union at 2390 El Camino Real was robbed on Jan. 9 after a manwalked into the bank with a handgun and demanded money. He escaped on foot after being given an undisclosed amount of cash.

Thompson allegedly used a similar approach in the March 9 robbery in Milpitas.

Anyone with information about Thompson or either of the Palo Alto robberies is asked to call Palo Alto police at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Gang members allegedly beat preschooler

Two members of the Taliban East Palo Alto gang allegedly beat a preschooler and threatened to shoot him because his father is a rival gang member, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has said.

The beating and threats were captured on a cell-phone video that one of the men had.

Wilbert Ard, 26, and Dwayne Anthony Henry, 20, were arrested March 11 for violating their parole and probation by associating with each other as gang members, Karen Guidotti, chief deputy district attorney, said.

Ard possessed a cell phone that had numerous videos, including one that showed both men allegedly roughing up a boy who is about 3 to 5 years old.

The men allegedly struck the boy in the head with a loaded 30-round handgun magazine while telling him they were going to shoot him and his father because the father is a rival gang member. The men also allegedly threatened the boy with a handgun as one man racked a round in the weapon.

Guidotti said the boy's father is believed to be a member of a Menlo Park gang. The child and father remain unidentified. Forensic analysis of the phone established the video was made on Feb. 19.

Ard and Henry were arraigned on March 20 and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 19. They remain in custody in San Mateo County Jail on $250,000 bail.

Cities look to install flood-warning system

Residents near the San Francisquito Creek received a wake-up call from the fickle creek on Dec. 23, when a heavy rain storm caused the creek to spill onto U.S. Highway 101 in East Palo Alto and nearly overflow the Pope-Chaucer Bridge in Palo Alto.

Now, officials from Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park are trying to make sure that the next rain storm will have less dramatic results.

On Monday night, April 1, the Palo Alto City Council authorized a request from the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (which includes the three cities and the water districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties) to apply for a grant that would pay for new gauges in the upper shed of the creek. If the grant is approved, the city would be able to significantly improve its flood-warning system, which currently includes the Creek Monitor web page. The page delivers real-time data on creek flows near bridges. It does not, however, measure the water level upstream.

The grant funds would be used to create what a report from the Public Works Department calls an "enhanced regional flood-warning system" for the creek's watershed. The new equipment would be integrated with existing gauges into a "unified monitoring system" and would include "a robust communications system that will optimize the availability of the rainfall and stream flow data to emergency responders and the general public."

If the grant is approved, the creek authority hopes to have the flood-warning system in place before the 2013-14 winter-storm season, according to the Public Works report.

— Gennady Sheyner

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