Palo Alto police are on high alert after two people were nearly robbed in separate incidents Tuesday night. In both incidents, the robbery target fought off the armed would-be robbers.
The first attempted robbery took place around 9:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Talisman Court, where a man in his 30s was returning home, police said.
The victim drove his car into his garage, but as he got out of the car, he was approached by a man who walked into the garage, brandished a handgun, and demanded money, police said. There was a brief scuffle between the suspect and the victim, and the suspect ran off empty-handed, police said. The victim was not injured in the incident.
The suspect in that robbery was described as a black man between 18 and 22 years old with a slim build. The victim said he was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, police said.
The second robbery attempt took place a little more than half an hour later at 10:03 p.m. in the 900 block of University Avenue, police said.
The second victim was also a man in his 30s, and he was walking east on the street when he was approached by three suspects, one of whom showed a gun and demanded money, police said.
A fight broke out between the victim and the suspects, eventually causing the suspects to flee south on Seneca Street towards Hamilton Avenue, police said. The second victim did not lose any property in the attempted robbery, police said. He sustained minor facial injuries in the fight, but was treated by Palo Alto Fire Department paramedics at the scene, police said.
The first suspect in the later robbery is described as a man in his 20s who may be Asian, police said. The man was 5 feet 10 inches tall with a medium build, and he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, police said. That suspect was the one who was brandishing the firearm and is believed to still be armed, police said.
The second of the three suspects is described as a Hispanic man in his 20s who is also 5 feet 10 inches tall but with a larger build, police said. He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, police said.
Police could not provide a clear description of the third suspect, who is described only as having a slim build, police said.
The two robberies may or may not be connected to each other and to several other robberies in that area of Palo Alto in recent weeks, police said. Police are using the near robberies as red flags to remind residents to be as aware as possible of their surroundings, particularly after dark, police said. People should also try to stay in well-lit, populated areas and avoid walking alone, police said.
If someone should have a run-in with a would-be robber, police advise, "it is generally safer to comply with an armed robber's demands" because "it is not worth it to be harmed over some property which can be replaced," they said.
Anyone with information about the two attempted robberies on Tuesday is encouraged to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413 or make anonymous tips at 650-383-8984.