Town Square

Post a New Topic

Man assaulted while walking home from bar

Original post made on Jul 23, 2007

A 39-year-old Palo Alto man was walking home at 2:30 a.m. Saturday after drinking at a bar when he was robbed by four young men in hooded sweatshirts who beat him up and took his wallet, cash and credit cards.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 23, 2007, 2:56 PM

Comments (26)

Like this comment
Posted by Gunner
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:16 pm

This is EXACTLY why we need concealed weapons permits in California.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Yes, and the victim would be dead now.

Like this comment
Posted by Craig
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:42 pm

I generally agree with you Gunner, but I believe in most states where shall-issue CCWs are a reality you can't bring your firearm to any place that serves alcohol, so it wouldn't probably have mattered. Its unfortunate that this incident took place - I think there are people out there just waiting for an easy score like this.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:47 pm


If Bert Kay had a concealed weapon he would have stood a better chance. He was murdered in cold blood on Palo Alto streets, downtown (Gilman St.).

Web Link

I agree with you that a guy who has been drinking should not be carrying, but if the rest of us were, this poor fellow may not have been attacked.

If EPA wants to reduce its murder rate, then legalize concealed weapons for all non-felons over the age of 21.

Like this comment
Posted by Giovanni
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:50 pm

The irony of it all is that he was probably walking home cause he spent all his cash .

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2007 at 5:54 pm

No, I don't think so. He was probably walking home because of the Promenade on Friday evening and he was one of those walking to have a good time in downtown and then chose to walk home instead of drive because he had been to a bar. This is such a shame to have happened at all, but on this particular evening it is ten times worse.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2007 at 6:13 pm


I don't know the facts. Neither do you. I hope the PA cops are withholding something from the press.

My main point is that if it was legal to carry concealed weapons (pistols) by law-abiding citizens, it would be much less likely that punks would make an attack, like this one (or the one that hit Kay). The old tautology, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws would have guns" , often riduclued by the gun-control advocates, is valid. Another way of putting it is, "If outlaws were outgunned, they would be too afraid to be outlaws".

Like this comment
Posted by Bang
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2007 at 7:28 pm

Having a gun would only mean that one or both of the attackers -- probably both just kids -- and maybe even the victim would be wounded or worse. Common sense, communication, self defense and simply being alert are all one needs. Having a gun is fun at the shooting range, but it's far different story when it comes down to killing someone.

Like this comment
Posted by Rex Kwon Do
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm

That's a bizarre comment to attach to this story. If you're going to bring up self-defense, it seems there are a number of reasonable alternatives before a gun in this situation: martial arts, a stun gun, running away, etc.

Why shoot four punk kids who punched and kicked him to get his wallet? Anyone who thinks a firearm would be appropriate self-defense in this situation is exactly the type of person who should not receive one.

...but since you brought it up.

First off, California DOES issue concealed weapon permits.

Second, and more importantly, the concealed carrying of weapons correlates to higher, not lower, crime rates: Web Link.

Criminals don't think "I wonder if they're carrying a gun because there's a concealed weapon law in this state", or "in this state victims can use deadly force when they are not allowed to retreat." Just like they don't think "I can get the death penalty if I do this, so I should wait until I get into a state with no death penalty."

After all, it was legal for the victim here to carry a knife, stun gun, mace, etc., but that didn't stop the attackers.

Criminals are just thinking about committing the crime. If they cared about the CCW law, they would have also cared about whatever law they breaking in the first place.

Furthermore, even with CCW laws, so few people carry guns that it doesn't create a practical concern for criminals, and the additional gun accidents almost always overwhelmingly cancel out any benefit.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 23, 2007 at 8:12 pm

"Why shoot four punk kids who punched and kicked him to get his wallet? Anyone who thinks a firearm would be appropriate self-defense in this situation is exactly the type of person who should not receive one."


Like this comment
Posted by Steven
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 24, 2007 at 5:22 pm

John, it sounds to me like Rex's point was that shooting someone in self-defense is excessive force when getting punched and kicked, and that these are "punk kids", not hardened criminals.

I think you can only use deadly force in self-defense under certain circumstances, and I don't think this was one of them since the victim's life wasn't at stake.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2007 at 6:50 pm

According to the Daily News' report (not of course that this is gospel), the victim here was drunk. I am sure that I am not the only one who would be fearful of a drunk with a gun even if he wasn't being attacked by a few ruffians let alone his attempts at self defence on his attackers. The more I think of it, the gun could have either gun off and gone through a local resident's window, or the ruffians would have got to the gun first and killed him with it. In this particular situation, I do not think carrying a gun would have helped him.

Like this comment
Posted by Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2007 at 7:31 am

When a state institutes Right to Carry laws, violent crime goes down in that state. Once "violent" criminals know they are at risk of defensive violence against them, they turn to non-violent crime like burglary and car theft.

There is no basis that more legal guns equal more violent crime, it is the opposite.

This was first noted in a town in Florida that had one of the highest rape rates in the nation. The police armed and trained every woman who was willing in that town, and the rape rate plummeted. No surprise, huh?

As for the comment that it this would not have been an appropriate time to defend one's self, to the point of killing your attackers, when 4 thugs are attacking you on the street is silly. 4 guys beating you up can definitely kill you. You would be crazy not to defend yourself in any way possible. What are you going to do while they beat you dead? Negotiate? You are more likely to survive rape, attack, anything, if you fight back hard and fast immediately. Thugs are not interested in getting hurt, and are looking for easy marks.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2007 at 8:26 am

"I think you can only use deadly force in self-defense under certain circumstances, and I don't think this was one of them since the victim's life wasn't at stake."


One can use deadly force when one has a reasonable fear for one's life or for serious bodily injury. When thugs are kicking the crap out of you, how do you know where they will stop? If Bert Kay had a gun, he might still be alive. Pity.

I do agree that carrying while drunk should not be legal, thus it may not have been the right thing in this case (if ones assumes the guy was drunk).

Like this comment
Posted by JFP
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2007 at 8:49 am

I think the whole question of concealed weapons is a distraction. The real point is that Palo Alto is becoming increasingly unsafe.

Like this comment
Posted by Donnie
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2007 at 9:43 am

JFP gets to the heart of the problem here. We can debate guns all we want, but the real issue is that the city no longer is providing protection against violent criminals to its citizens to the same degree it used to.

In my opinion, this is one more instance of the governing elite in Palo Alto having ignored the basic functions of municipal government while they distract themselves with frivolities like expensive Environmental Commissioners and closing streets for Promenades.

Today, I see our mayor occupied in a photo-op for a bike race. Who thinks her time would not have been better spent trying to find out why yet another citizen was violently assaulted on our streets?

When our council members pay any attention to police function at all, it is to grandstand about racial profiling or making sure we're kind to the homeless pandhandlers attracted here by the Opportunity Center and our lax policy on loitering.

Like this comment
Posted by Craig
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2007 at 10:27 am

Great point Donnie and JFP. Can someone out there tell me about how many police officers are on patrol at any given time? Its something that I'm really curious about. Also, do you guys think that hiring (if cost was no object) maybe 2-3 more full time officers would help?

I do think this incident is unfortunate. You SHOULD be able to wander home safely after having a few drinks, after all we'd rather have you on the sidewalks than behind the wheel of a car. However, when you are drunk, your situational awareness and response time aren't exactly at their peak and you might be a very tempting "score" for some hooligans. Its not this guy's fault of course, but its probably safer to take a cab. I would say travel in a group, but I recall last year a similar incident where a couple was robbed in under similar circumstances.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 25, 2007 at 11:47 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Residents should not have to worry about being assulted, robbed, raped, or murdered when walking, or out at night. If criminals knew that their targets might be armed, they may be less likely to attack. It it sad things have come to this, but I agree that concealed weapons should be an option.

Like this comment
Posted by Just Thinking
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2007 at 4:32 pm

And if the punk were adults, and not convicted felons, they could have just had easily shot the victim as beat him.

Like this comment
Posted by Browning
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Are you pro CCW people out there involved in CA rifle and pistol association or the local NRA members council? If you aren't, you should be! If you want more info, go here: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 26, 2007 at 8:54 pm

I for one would feel far less safe with a bunch of citizens packing guns with no training in dealing with guns in stressful situations like being confronted with a robbery. The people are not just nervous, they're scared, they're not thinking, they're not aiming, they're just shooting. Look at the statistics about trained cops and the military in such situations, they fire round after round after round, with few of them hitting their intended targets. But what of other people in the area. What about people who have had a few drinks and pull out a pistol to fend off their assailants and plug a bystander or fire a bullet into a neighbors home. What about people who are carrying who get mad at a spouse or an employer or the next guy who cuts them off on the freeway.

No thanks. Ask a cop or a soldier how they would feel dealing with a citizenry with concealed weapons. I think most of them would agree with me. Many states have rules for police to have them pause for a significant time after a hot pursuit because their judgement is quite clouded.

Think this through, please, before you get on the megaphone for concealed carrying for everyone.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2007 at 9:43 am

Peter, a very well thought out comment. I heartily agree.

And, I am not Peter.

Like this comment
Posted by Browning
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 27, 2007 at 10:04 am

I understand your concern, Peter. No one should be carrying or using a pistol if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and I do not believe this would be permissible under any state's concealed carry laws.
As to the other issues you mentioned, those are things to be concerned about. Carrying a pistol for self-defense should never, ever be taken lightly. As a private citizen, you can receive training that is the same or better than police officers receive, and if it ever came to pass that california became a "shall-issue" state, you should receive all the training and practice you can. Of course its absolutely impossible to create a crime-free utopia, either by banning all firearms, or allowing every joe-schmo to carry one. Personally, I prefer personal liberty, rather than government control.
I have thought this through myself, and I encourage others to do so as well. Research the issue - read both sides, and if you decide this is something you support, get involved! If you are curious about the background to this issue, you can research on the internet:
Web Link (wikipedia's entry on concealed carry in the US)
That should provide you with some framework to understand the debate. I do want to reassure you that many people who support concealed carry (or firearms ownership generally) are just regular people. I'm a father of 2 kids, and I take every possible precaution to make sure the I and I alone have access to my firearms. Since getting involved with shooting sports, I've met many other men and women, parents and non-parents alike who are just like me in this regard.

Like this comment
Posted by Police Supporter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:28 am

As for police wanting legally armed citizenry...yes, they do. Consistently they are on the side of adult citizens carrying arms.

If you want the data, i can get it, but you can probably google it as well as i can.

Like this comment
Posted by The victim - name withheld
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 30, 2007 at 12:59 am

As the victim of the robbery, I would like to add some comments.

(at least I think I am the victim, unless there was another man in my approx. age walking in approx. the same are and being attacked by roundabout the same number of people).

Well it shows you that details in these stories might not always be 100% correct – please compare to Mercury News Article: Web Link

I am glad I stumbled across this webpage and blog – as there are many good comments – with many different underlying assumptions.

As the victim of the robbery/attack I would like to thank the Palo Alto Police Department who have been very professional, diligent and courteous – then special thanks of course to the Palo Alto resident answered his door in the middle of the night, let me in and called the help I needed (at 3.30 am – and I must have been a very scary sight). Our Palo Alto Paramedics are great - they do not only do their medical job but give their patients immediately a safe feeling and lift ones spirit – I could tell that they personally cared. Of course I do not want to forget to thank the overworked hospital staff – who see the worst things every day but always give their best to help.

Please understand that certainly some details in news stories might not be 100% correct ( no blame on anyone here – especially not the Police Officers). As the police responded very quickly and interviewed me as soon as they could, I might not have been very clear. I still have problems with my general memory and to focus now a week later. News stories often have smaller "translation" issues which have many reasons – certainly the police officers have a tough job when trying to interview someone not fully coherent under time pressure (they need to get the important facts as quick as possible in these situations)

Compare this article to the Mercury one and suddenly the age, hometown, amount of attackers, time of incident, where I came from, time of incident, severity of injuries are all a little different.

I do not know a bar in the area there and I think there is none (I actually came from a friend’s home). I enjoy walking and have a 0 tolerance rule for drinking and driving. And I wonder how many people call a cab when it is just a short walk.

A little background – I have extensive military and police training and just recently assisted the Thai police with their work in South Thailand (you might have heard of the terrorism issues there).

I can assure you that there was no chance to avoid this confrontation and no chance to “win” it (I am leaving out the details as this is for the police to divulge). Even if I had a concealed weapon – it would have made no difference in this case. I am always aware of my surroundings and have learned to stay calm. But what would you do if you walk (in a non-combat, non gang zone) and (as mentioned in the news article) 4 guys approach you? Once in close proximity you do not have much of a chance.

However, I would have never expected the brutality of the attack. The attackers must have known that their attack could easily have killed me - either instantly or due to my being beaten unconscious and bleeding heavily. I did absolutely nothing to provoke them – I did not even hesitate for one second to hand over my wallet but I cannot share any details as the Police are still investigating. I can however tell you that I saw someone die before in a similar attack 18 years ago in Europe in a nightclub.

What I can say is that I am a strong 6'4 tall man and inherited very strong bones (not one bone broken ever - even when I fell 2 stories down into a construction site onto concrete floor as a child). I certainly do not look like an "easy" victim - and this is what scares me the most… for other people who do not share my size and serious look. You can make your own assumptions what might have given these guys the encouragement to pick a more difficult target.

Also, the attackers must have known that their brutal attack could easily have killed me - either through instant trauma, internal bleeding injuries or due to being unconscious and bleeding heavily. Certainly the beating/kicking did not stop when I was lying on the ground unconscious. Luckily I woke up by myself later.

I harbor no significant anger against these “boys” for attacking me, my anger against them is from knowing that they either did this before or will do it again to someone else. Up to know my believe was to just hand over my money to a robber… money is not that important.

However after this incident I question myself what I should do if ever confronted with a robbery again – should my reaction be to full out attack if someone ask me for my money? Times are changing and with this attack in mind … they were willing and working on killing me – so what could have been worse if I had initiated the fight to get some advantage.

I have the size and strength to rip at least some DNA from any criminal – and maybe the noise of a fight would wake the neighbors. Possibly I could even take out one or two.

This time I did not do anything and it might have killed me and maybe even provided encouragement for these criminals to continue what they do in the future.

One part of me feels a certain sadness for them – they crossed a certain barrier - and I know that their life will be one of misery….

Regarding the intoxication comments – it all depends on the level of intoxication and the personal reaction to it. You probably have seen people who get less careful or quicker violent when intoxicated. Also it can increase strength and stamina (in the old European “fraternity” formal sword duels, alcohol was used to strengthen the fighter who had lost a lot of blood – these duels were a “friendly” challenge). Therefore the intoxicated man might not be an easier target. I personally am never drunk or not in control.

My opinion to concealed weapons is that there should be a limited amount allowed (and only specific “private” versions) only for people who have undergone significant government background checks and psychological evaluations along with Police or Military style training. If you have never experienced (even simulated) combat situation, then you should not be allowed to carry a gun. Laws regarding drinking and carrying a gun should be the same as our DUI laws (a car is same as a deadly dangerous weapon). And as we need to renew our driver licenses – we should need to renew the gun license. Gun makers should be forced to pair guns with one person – heck my computer even has fingerprint technology (so similar one could need to be required to activate their gun one time per day). Laws should be relaxed significantly for weapons which primarily employ non-deadly force – the hard criminals all have guns anyways.

My recommendations for improving the safety on our streets are to provide our Police Department with the more funds, tools and community support. Palo Alto is a city where I feel safe when I see a police car – not like in many other cities (around the world) where the first thought might be the concern about getting a traffic ticket (nothing against the majority of those Police Officers either – usually the behavior is directly related to pay – or lack thereof – as well as directions from the government and community acceptance).

Rather than wasting a lot of our government resources on issues the politicians can benefit from in the polls easily, we should focus on strengthening our communities. I have no objection to pay more taxes to give more money to our public “servants” in general, but specifically for people who perform well. We should increase the manpower, but with the right goal – physical safety for the community. E.g. Law enforcement personnel assigned to catch speeders is mostly a waste of one of our most valuable resources: people who are willing to put their live on the line to protect others.

In other countries there are stationary and mobile cameras to catch speeders/red light runners/people tailing to closely, etc. And they get their ticket mailed automatically and the payment is often taken out of their bank account per wire. Also the paperwork that officers have to complete need to be reduced significantly, support personnel hired or the work should be outsourced.

I recommend to increase funding for Palo Alto PD, improve the lighting in our neighborhoods and to install a “London-type” cctv-camera network (maybe homeland security has that in their budget).

Also thanks to the people who posted messages – it makes me feel good that people care. Please do not jump to conclusions in regards to the attacker’s backgrounds but help the police to catch them (other articles did not mention the ethnicity of the attackers and someone immediately highlighted our proximity to EPA). Also consider that not every item in news stories needs to be (or is) 100% correct – I certainly feel that I could have done a better job when I was interviewed by the police.

I am recovering well – I have strong bones. Please wish me good luck that my brain did not get any long-term damage.

In closing let me say that with our great Police Force I still feel safe in Palo Alto. And our Medical Services are so fast to respond to emergencies.

Please take a look at the Palo Alto map and let me know what your thoughts are regarding the attack (again – no bar there – no people on the streets besides me and the attackers). Also let me know what you think the reason for the brutality might have been.

Like this comment
Posted by complaining mom
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 9, 2007 at 7:42 pm

what is this, the wild west? think about how stupid the average person is. you want that blockhead carrying around a gun he can whip out to make his whatever's bothering him go away? maybe we should bring back the duel at high noon too.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Former Flea St. Cafe chef starts meal delivery service
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 6,903 views

10 ways to reduce your dog's "pawprint"
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 4,482 views

Why can't high schoolers write?
By Jessica Zang | 13 comments | 2,748 views

"Plant an Expectation, Reap a Disappointment"
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,897 views

'Ignoring what's wrong has never made anything right'
By Diana Diamond | 4 comments | 1,273 views


Benefiting local non-profits

The 36th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, October 2, wherever you are! Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local non-profits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon.

Register Today!