East Palo Alto police are investigating two attempted robberies by groups of teenagers on Thursday night within a two-hour span on a pedestrian bridge that crosses over U.S. Highway 101.
The first attempted robbery took place around 8 p.m. when a man walking west on the bridge crossed paths with a group of six to seven Hispanic teenagers, police said in a press release issued Friday. One of the teens asked the man for his backpack and cellphone before the rest of the group attacked him. The pedestrian was transported to a hospital where he was treated for moderate injuries.
About 90 minutes later, another pedestrian was walking on the bridge from the East Bayshore Road side to Clarke Avenue where he was faced by a group of six to eight teens of mixed race, police said. The teens surrounded him and asked what was in his pockets.
When the man pulled out a knife to defend himself, the group grabbed bricks laying in the area and threw them at him before fleeing west on the bridge, according to police. He was left with minor injuries but didn't need further treatment at a hospital, Cmdr. Jeff Liu said.
Investigators are looking into whether any of the teens were connected to both attempted robberies, the only two reported on the bridge since it opened to the public last month, according to Liu.
Officers were unable to find any of the teenagers during a neighborhood search or locate video security footage from the area that could help identify them, Liu said.
East Palo Alto police intend to monitor the area to ensure pedestrians are safe while crossing the bridge and are exploring ways the department can monitor the bridge on a 24/7 basis, Liu said.
Police are stepping up patrols at the bridge and are looking into adding surveillance cameras, he said on Tuesday.
Anyone who witnessed or has information on the attempted robberies is asked to contact East Palo Alto police. Anonymous tips can be sent by voicemail or text message to 650-409-6792 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.