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Attempted sexual assault reported in Palo Alto

Original post made on Nov 29, 2012

A man broke in to a home in the 100 block of Hawthorne Avenue early this morning and "may have been about to commit a sexual assault on the female resident," Palo Alto police stated in a press release.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 29, 2012, 8:31 AM

Comments (38)

Posted by resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

Was the attacker wearing a mask? If not, are the cops working on a sketch of the attacker?


Posted by Horrible!!!, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Anne, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:13 am

How frightening for the woman, and how frustrating that although paople are taking all of the proper precautions,there seems to be a welcome mat down for all criminals in Palo Alto. Suggestions, anyone?


Posted by Reality., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

Anne, Palo Alto needs to pass a law requiring all homes to be armed. Now this law will not be enforced in a true and literal sense. What it will do is change the tide and social culture behind crime. It will show the Palo Alto supports individuality and the right to self defense, while scaring would be future criminals away.

This law would not be enforced in a literal sense of course, but I'm sure a few home invasions gone wrong will change the minds of these criminals.

When I'm not in California/Palo Alto I have an out of state Conceal Carry License. I carry my trusty .45, and not because im scared of anything. How could I be with 100 years of American battle and law enforcement history behind my .45 colt?


Posted by Dad, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

The 100 block of Hawthorne is it?
My daughter was attacked just before dawn as she ran across the bike bridge earlier this fall. Fortunately, she was able to escape his grip and scare him off. She followed him down Alma as she called 911 on her cell but he'd turned on the 100 block of Hawthorne and disappeared by the time she got to the corner of Alma & Hawthorne.
Suggests to me that: 1) it may be the same guy in both attacks, and 2) that he might live on or near Hawthorne.
I'm sure the police are aware of this.


Posted by Felicity, a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

Few are going to want to listen to Reality, but sadly he is correct. All the states that have more lenient gun laws, have lower crime. Huh? Yup, I was surprised in my Quaker upbringing heart. It does make sense on second look as states where criminals are well aware that their potential targets may well be armed, go and do elsewhere. Palo Alto is a sitting duck with nice liberal folk with lots of material items. Those states do not have deaths by gunshots, they actually have lower. As many cities hit fiscal crisis and don't have police to respond as fast as PA's the criminals run rampant as there is no one else armed to stop them. I don't recall the whole list of these states but Vermont is the state that surprised me the most.


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

More landlords should allow tenants to have dogs.


Posted by Dad, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:03 am

I don't think a law requiring homes to have guns would be constitutional. I know I don't want guns in my house.


Posted by Sleuth, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

2:11am and three blocks from University Ave. I'm thinking he was coming from the bars, after having been kicked out at last call.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Vagrant transients who live in the creek.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm

A dog is not a good idea for someone who is living alone and works all day.


Posted by Rational, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I think Dad's hypothesis makes sense. Must be someone who knows that the home was of a 20-something and likely few other people in there? I am looking forward to the Police nabbing that guy. But it seems the more he does not get caught, the more emboldened he gets?


Posted by agree, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I am with Dad and Rational, the guy wouldn't break in randomly to a home that he was planning on attacking a woman without knowing that a woman lives in the apartment. There are a lot of homeless that live in the trees and bushes across the street and also in by the watershed.


Posted by Thetruth, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Time to give a search for the sexual predators in the neighborhood.


Posted by Chrisc, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Knowing the the residents are armed, just means the criminals will bring guns and bigger ones. Saying we should all get guns is just crazy, and I'm frightened to know that people are carrying concealed weapons. I guess we should practice our quick-draw skills. BTW- read the book "A Safeway in Arizona" and you'll know arizona's lenient gun laws have led to.


Posted by liar, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Reality., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm

You'd be surprised at who carries concealed firearms Chrisc. I am a tax paying, voting, middle classed, former boyscout who works in a public job that is vital to the comfortable lifestyle you and every other American expects to live (not law enforcement in case you were wondering). I have never hurt anyone, and don't plan on doing so unless they threaten myself or a loved one. 99% on concealed carry holders are the same.

Hollywood has really made firearms out to be magical and mystical and weapons of dirty poor folk, and evil rich men in suit and ties. Firearms are merely a form of self defense, and handguns are not heat seeking baby killing machines that hunt for innocent blood. If you look at statistics, your chances of getting shot fatally from a handgun is minor.

Fact of the matter is, California's gun laws are based on racism and have diminished our constitutional rights. California used to be the wild west, until the man decided to stick it to the minorities and implement harsh firearm related laws in regards to the black panthers in the 60s and 70s.

I may be that nice guy you deal with on a day to day basis. I'm that guy that returns a wallet I found, the guy that says hello at the grocery store, who opens the door for women and children, you might also see me volunteering my time with charities, ect. When it comes to an intruder breaking into my home at 2am without permission or a reason to be there, I'm the guy that has no problem using lethal force. It is my constitutional right, as well as a human right. No man, woman or child should be placed in a position where they are stuck as victims. We fight for freedoms in the courts, we protest on the streets, we vote, why does left wing, highly educated, wealthy America not believe human rights apply to preservation of ones own life, in ones own home, or out in ones community?

I don't get it?


Posted by Reality., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Just as a note as well, if firearms were non existent, you'd see more bombings, more stabbings and more alternative forms of violence. Do you really think that the firearm is the catalyst to random acts of violence? Premeditated or non? One cannot deny its a tool used, but it is not to blame. If firearms really were such a problem, we ought to be dealing with total anarchy, bodies in the street, and outright astronomical murder rates. (think Mexico city or Baghdad- War ZONES). Terrorist attacks (because that is the definition, an attack against "soft" non military targets) will occur with our without the firearm.

For a country with almost more firearms than people, we are doing alright, which goes to show firearms are not the problem. (this year ruger will sell 1 million firearms) That is one company of many, and firearms still in circulation can go as far back as 100 years.

The ultimate conclusion in the firearm debate comes down to this, an unexplainable fear. I know I won't be committing any crimes soon, not only was I taught not to steal and beat people up on the playground (or face the consequences) but as a Concealed Carry holder, I have had to sacrifice the freedom of anonymity by giving up my finger prints (all 10 of them). If I commit a minor crime, and my fingerprints are obtained, I'm done for. Should we fingerprint all school aged children? I think we should, but I'm sure many would disagree. We live in a society that is so scared of punishing the wrong man/woman (rightfully so, your innocent until proven guilty) that we protect the criminal and basically make everyone else a victim.

The way I look at it, you should know its wrong to break into someones home at 2am, and face the consequences. Maybe getting caught and fed 3 meals a day and sheltered and cared for on the victims dime (tax dollars) is a slap in the face to all of us who play by life's rules.


Posted by Horrible!!, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm

To Palo Alto online staff,

Why you deleted my comment(the second one)? I had suggested people to turn on house alarm when they go to bed, what's wrong with it??


Posted by Reality., a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Horrible, Alarms are great EXCEPT! They are a major drain on public services. Law Enforcement, EMS, and Fire make up a good portion of their call volume checking out alarms, when real calls are going out. The level of false alarms is also very high. There was a time when I wore a uniform and responded in an emergency apparatus, and our days were filled with false alarms. I can think of a few occasions where we were checking alarms out when real calls came out, and the seconds spent actually had a negative impact.

Not all alarms automatically dispatch public services, but those that do can be a major drain. I know Palo Alto was flirting with the idea of penalties for false alarms on commercial buildings, as a few years back when the cuts were going through they did not have the resources to respond to the high levels of false alarms.

Its a good idea, but would have to be thought out, and still does not solve the issue of a shrinking public safety force. Just remember, even medical and fire based alarms with limited information and no active caller, still require (in many places, not sure on Palo Alto's policies) law enforcement response until it has been determined they are not needed.


Posted by Dad, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm

The number of deaths by firearms is 8 times greater in this country than in other developed countries where firearms are more carefully regulated: over 14 deaths/100,000 in this country vs less than 2 deaths/100,000 in Europe, Japan, etc. My conclusion is that, on the whole, this country would be safer and far better off with fewer guns.

A Harvard study came to the following conclusions regarding citizens carrying guns for self defense:
1) Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal.
2) Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense.
3) Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate intimates than to thwart crime.
4) Few criminals are shot by decent law abiding citizens.


Posted by Dad, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Oops - didn't include the link to the Harvard study I referred to.
Web Link


Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Sigh. I might have guessed a report on an attempted assault of a woman would degenerate into a gun lover vs gun hater thread.

I think Dad's post was very useful, and I hope the police are aware of his daughter's almost being attacked in the same vicinity.

I feel for the young woman awakened to every woman's worst nightmare and hope she has close friends and/or family nearby to comfort her. If I were she, I'd stay with someone for a while.


Posted by Happened to me, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I was attacked in a similar way when I was in college, but scared the guy off with a realistic looking toy gun. However, that was in a big city.

Palo Alto police have the reputation among other officers from other jurisdictions, of being more PR oriented than crime fighting oriented (according to friends who have worked for SJ, Oakland, and Santa Clara PD).

Perhaps the criminal public is aware of this, and unreasonably unafraid of them, because for a small town, Palo Alto seems to have a disproportionate amount of crime.


Posted by Didn't happen to me, a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Maybe we should stop questioning and criticizing the police sometimes and offer them some support, so they can go take care of people like this that need to go to jail for a long long time. I hope they find him and do this. But I trust they know more about this stuff than I do


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Always carry pepper spray a nd be sure you have practiced with it so you knw how it works, what it looks like, what the range is, etc. it is cheap, legal and if you accidentally spray a friend, there is no permanent damage done.

As for "Reality" a 45 caliber bullet will go right through a person and end up in your kids room or your neighbors house. Please at least shoot the peeper spray first and a gun only as a last resort.


Posted by Rational, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Thanks for the Harvard study, Dad. It just feels carrying more guns is somehow not a good fix, this proves it. I am also wondering about the "oops, what did I do with my fathers gun" statistic, that would be a good addition to the story.

The Police sure showed up there in 120 seconds to shore up their public image. Jeeze what other reason could there be for them to rush that fast? Um ...


Posted by Rational, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Neighbor, bingo on pepper spray. My wife keeps one in the nightstand. Also, remember pressing and holding 9 on your cellphone auto dials 911 and sends your location (E911). Most phone I have tried can be set up like this.


Posted by Reality., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2012 at 1:09 am

And yet another common hollywood fallacy. If you want to take statistics, .45 is a great defense round because its slow, and does not over penetrate like the smaller and faster .38 inch rounds (9mm nato) and 0.40 calibers. Also, in regards to any handgun ammunition over penetrating, its called responsible self defense. Hollow point defensive ammunition has very little over travel, and fragments very easily.

Don't let the movies fool you, pistol ammunition doesn't lift someone up off their feet and cause massive explosions.


Posted by Speculation, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Speculation, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Ugh - didn't read the update from the original blurb. Looks like a much more sinister encounter than I had hoped for.

Wish she would have blasted him.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Yes, that's what we need, guns in every house. Your teenager comes home late at night, perhaps having a few drinks in him/her. He'she can't find the key and tries to get in through a window or the side garage door and gets shot by his parent. Happens much too often. Do those who suggest guns in every house ever use any part of their brains beside their lizard brain?


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Lots of bravado/nonsense talk. Summed up: just denial and 'blame the victim" in another guise.

The woman was asleep at 2am when she awoke to see the intruder in front of her --- you think she could be lucid enough to get hold of a loaded gun and shoot straight? The man would have grabbed it and killed her.

Crime is up in Palo Alto. Establish neighborhood watch. Hire more cops, increase cops in downtown, esp. during high crime seasons and days of the week. Posting cameras downtown wouldn't be a bad idea too.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I'm very sorry that this happened. The gun arguments are silly & stupid, & detract from this incident, which might be related to other incidents.

I'm sorry all the stupid gun comments were left & that Terminators of Endearment's great comment the other day was removed. If anything, that handle should win an award!

I hope that the victim is safely recovering from this traumatic event.


Posted by AnotherConcernedParent, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I am very proud of this woman for putting up a fight. That is almost definitely what saved her from a much more devastating fate. For some stats, please see here (from a local karate & self-defense school):
Web Link
They also give some tips on self-defense here:
Web Link


Posted by ndnorth, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I saw the TV report of the incident and the door looked flimsy. Surely if a door is strong and have dead bolts (bolted) the noise from trying to break the door would be enough to attract scrutiny in a building with many other tenants... Brave woman indeed but a better door set up
may have deterred the assailant.


Posted by just thinkin', a resident of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Remember, it's a block or2 to the bridge crossing into Menlo Park - one a police car can't cross.
Time for a camera??????????


Posted by some guy, a resident of another community
on Dec 1, 2012 at 9:53 pm

A quick and easy way to stop an assault; poke them in the eyes.


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