Two people were attacked during a violent hate crime assault in downtown Palo Alto early Sunday morning, and the suspect had to be taken into custody with the assistance of a police dog, police said Tuesday. He now faced multiple felony charges, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.
The assault left a man in his 60s temporarily unconscious. A second victim, a woman in her 20s, was thrown to the ground. The alleged attacker, Alexander Joseph Furrier, 26, of Palo Alto, allegedly first verbally badgered the older man with hate-based slurs, according to a press release.
Police responded to a call on Oct. 10 at about 1:30 a.m. after a witness reported two males fighting near the intersection of University Avenue and Waverley Street. Officers located the two victims and the suspected attacker, later identified as Furrier, who had blood on his face.
Furrier fled on foot. Officers chased him while others aided the two people and called personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department to assist. The man in his 60s had temporarily lost consciousness, police learned.
The woman and Furrier were acquaintances. They had been at a downtown bar and later attended a house party with a group of mutual friends. The woman left the party with a man in his 60s and another man, both of whom she said are gay. Furrier followed the trio on foot and allegedly continually called the two men anti-gay epithets, police said.
When they reached University Avenue at Waverley Street, the two men who accompanied the woman parted ways from her. Furrier, however, refused to leave although the woman told him to leave her alone. He allegedly made rude statements to her, she told police.
The man in his 60s returned to come to the woman's aid and asked if she needed help. When she replied that she did, he confronted Furrier and asked him to leave the woman alone. Furrier allegedly attacked the older man, punching him several times while continuing to use anti-gay epithets. He then allegedly picked up the woman and threw her to the ground when she tried to intervene. He continued to punch the older man, who was temporarily knocked unconscious as a result of the assault, police said.
Upon arrival, officers chased Furrier on foot to the 400 block of Everett Avenue. They found him hiding on a second-floor stairwell of an apartment complex. Officers, including one who is also a member of the department's Crisis Negotiation Team, attempted to reason with him to come downstairs and surrender. Furrier did not comply and refused to obey police, even after being warned a police dog could be used to arrest him.
Furrier kicked the police dog repeatedly in the head and attempted to choke the dog between his legs until the officers were able to get him safely handcuffed and in custody. Police said they didn't use any additional force beyond the dog. The officers treated Furrier's leg, which had been bitten by the dog, and the Palo Alto Fire Department transported him to a local hospital for further medical assistance.
The older man suffered a laceration to the back of his head and was admitted to a hospital for evaluation for a possible head injury. The woman said she was uninjured.
Furrier was taken into custody had multiple lacerations from the dog bite to his lower leg and a cut on his face that occurred prior to police arriving on scene. The police dog had a cut above one eye and also may have injured a paw; a veterinarian will evaluate and treat the dog's injuries. No officers were injured during the arrest, the department said.
Police booked Furrier into Santa Clara County jail after he received brief treatment at a hospital.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said it has decided to charge Furrier with assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury; personal infliction of great bodily injury; battery upon any person causing serious bodily injury; commission of felony that is a hate crime; harming a peace officer's horse or dog, causing serious injury; resisting, delaying, obstructing an officer; and battery. His arraignment was set for Thursday.
Palo Alto police said they won't tolerate hate crimes and they encourage the public to report any such incidents.
"In the wake of recent national events and increased attention on hate crimes, the personnel of the Palo Alto Police Department continue to show their commitment to thoroughly investigate any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto. … The City of Palo Alto strongly denounces hate crimes of all kinds, and encourages members of our community to promptly report these incidents."
Anyone with information about Sunday's incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.
Editor's note: The name and photo of the defendant was added to the story on Oct. 14, after the District Attorney filed charges in the case. See our publishing guidelines here.