News


Palo Alto police investigate death of man at Mitchell Park

Shooting at popular Palo Alto park believed to be self-inflicted, police say

A man died at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto Thursday morning in a shooting that police believe was self-inflicted.

Palo Alto police received multiple calls at 10 a.m. of a shooting at 600 East Meadow Drive. A man had allegedly shot himself next to a picnic table near the tennis courts, Agent Marianna Villaescusa said. Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department pronounced him dead at the scene.

The man was believed to be older, and police located a weapon near his body, she said.

Officers did a sweep of the area and did not find any other victims. The public is not in danger, she added.

"We believe this is limited to just him," Villaescusa said.

Construction workers who are building the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center said they have often seen an older man sitting at the picnic table while they eat lunch there.

Villaescusa said no witnesses actually saw the shooting, but investigators are talking to a number of people who were in the park.

A park visitor who was about 100 feet away heard the shot. He was sitting at a bench when he heard the gun go off and stood up.

"In between me and the man there was a group of about 10 kids with three camp counselors. They were about 50 feet away. They were 9- or 10-year-olds, and the counselors shooed the kids away," he said.

The witness walked toward the man and called 911, he said.

A private organization running the children's camp has notified the parents and is providing counselors as needed, according to police. Personnel from the Palo Alto Police Department have been working closely with the organization to ensure that counseling occurs.

The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. Villaescusa said the cordoned-off area under the redwood trees near the tennis courts would remain closed for at least two hours.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rose
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

My sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Guns are scary and dangerous. My sympathies to the family.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I'm grateful that no one else was hurt as a result of this man's actions, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. If this was indeed a suicidal act, then we should collectively encourage anyone contemplating this act to seek help and contact the suicide hotline. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation refers to this number for crisis intervention and assistance: 1-800-SUICIDE. There are people on stand-by 24-hours.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

This is heartbreaking. We had a picnic at Mitchell Park at those same tables earlier this week. We had a great time with family and friends.

Our thoughts and prayers are with this man and his family...as well as the young children who were nearby.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Sue, this is the story about neighbors parking problems I was wondering about Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Comments on this week's Caltrain suicide prevention story Web Link show surprise and alarm that so many more suicides are done privately without media attention. Some, maybe most, even after counseling was sought. We just don't know and never find out. Is it more selfish to shine a spotlight on the problem as this man did? Or more selfish to keep it private and off the front page?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by To Sue
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Here is a novel idea - after reading the reference to Residents Baron Park parking link. Despite the sad shooting in Mitchell Park. Why not fix the parking problems in the City that reportedly are leading to violence?

Please realize this person may have been homeless? You suggest - Inconsiderate? Children? A Baron Park problem? Someone lost their life. We need more enforcement and patrols and plain human understanding. And reporting that explains what really occurred?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm

This has nothing to do with "guns [being] scary and dangerous". Yes, the gun was "dangerous" in the hand of the man who used it, but that's precisely why he used it.












 +   Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm

>> reporting that explains what really occurred

That's precisely the controversy, whether to report these events or not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Who ever suggested palo alto medical foundation as a place to call for help when considering suicide could try a mock call to pamf. Their first and only question will be your insurance and how will you pay. Sad but true.

We all love to think there is help but try calling. It takes weeks to get an appt and again you need to have insurance.

Very sad that this individual was not able to talk to someone who could have provided some comfort. of course....very sad for family, friends, and community impacted by this avoidable tragic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:34 am

Green Acres Resident, not exactly true. For long term, post intervention counseling an insurance carrier would be required through PAMF. The same as would be expected for treatment of any illness. However, initial intervention is conducted through the Nation Suicide Hotline which not only handles the emergency at intake, but also provide guidance in seeking a myriad of other mental health resources that are free of charge. Additionally, they often time coordinate the intervention response for public safety as well.

I'm not saying that what you claim isn't true. It just doesn't tell the whole story.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2012 at 9:50 am

Yes guns are scary and dangerous. They are designed to maim and kill. No other purpose. If you own a gun, you have to admit that you are owning it for the sole purpose of perhaps using it either in self defence or as a means of showing superior weapon power.

For those who think they are used for sport, they are different types of guns and fire blanks.

This means of suicide in your home offers a quick longterm solution for perhaps a moment of frustration over a short term problem. Perhaps if the gun was not so handy, the victim would still be alive.

Poisons, pills, etc. have useful purposes too. Guns have no useful purpose other than maiming or death.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

<<Construction workers who are building the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center said they have often seen an older man sitting at the picnic table while they eat lunch there.>>

Was this the deceased? Was he homeless and despondent? Or just despondent for other reasons--health, other loss?
No matter, sad event and circumstances.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

So sad for the kids, if any actually witnessed this. Kudos to the camp group for providing counseling as needed.
No one could have known his issues, so quit trying to figure it out. Sorry to his family.

At least it didn't happen up on the tracks this time. What will PA want to do now, put in metal detectors at park entrances?!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:18 am

Who cares what good/bad guns are for. I personally don't like them, but if others do, they do. I can't stand it when people try to make good or bad out of things. Guns have been around for , like, EVER! What good are they? Who knows, ask the hunter that brings food to his family. Ask the cops. Get over it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Larry
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:19 am

Question for "Resident". What is the sport you refer to in which guns shoot blanks?

People who live in high rent, low crime areas may consider guns merely as weapons to maim. Those who live in low rent, high crime areas , consider them a means of defending themselves & perhaps surviving


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

The only sport I have knowledge of that uses guns is clay pigeon shooting, and that is only third party knowledge. I choose not to know very much about guns and bullets, because they are too dangerous in the wrong hands and too dangerous if they get out of hand.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Please, everyone, let's not use this particular board to rally on political issues. A man has died, tragically. To digress to other topics (even if related) diminishes the primary message -- the death of neighbor and the tragedy of suicide. My sympathies to his family, friends, and community. Am glad help is being provided to the children in the park.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Norma
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

There's odd people hanging out at Cogswell Plaza recently. I hope that the police keeps their eye out on that too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I owned two handguns for the last 14 years. My wife and I take them to the shooting range twice a year . I don't hunt and I don't shoot for sport. I live in a gated community. They are loaded and kept in a "quick open" safe in our bedroom. They are there for one reason- to shoot someone who comes into our home to do us harm.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

State-assisited (or doctor-assisted) suicide is much preferable to gun violence in front of kids. We need this outlet, in order to prevent what went down yesterday, in front of the kids, in a public park, next to a ballfield full of kids.

Kevorkian was right, but he was persecuted for it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I'm with Sue
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

We can save their pain and treat our DOGS with more care and dignity at the end of their lives than we are permitted to treat our parents or ourselves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm

@ Sue:

I wholeheartedly disagree. You don't even NEED a doctor (or a Dr. Do-No-Harm-Except-Kill) to commit suicide. People can easily kill themselves in the privacy of their own homes or apartments. Rather, individuals need counselors to show them that killing one's self is not the "easy" answer to the problems that they face.

Suicide obviously affects the person who commits the act, but it also affects those around us. The family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers often live with guilt for not having recognized the signs. And, of course, there are a group of children attending camp in Mitchell Park who will likely remember this event throughout the duration of their lives.

Like someone said, we don't need to digress from the subject. A man killed himself in a public park. Last week, we had a picnic in the same area. I can't help but wonder what caused a man to do this (and do it in a public park with children around him). Yet, regardless of the reason, I will be praying for this man, his family and friends and the children who were unfortunately present on the day of this event.

It is a tragedy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

Also wish to extend my respect and gratitude to the first responders in these cases, namely the fire department personnel and police officers who are charged with the task of dealing with these circumstances up close and personal.

Many might say that's what their paid to do and it's just a part of their job. Yes, that's true, and I guarantee that you'll never hear them complain about it. But the fact is that it's a job that a vast majority of us would either be incapable of or unwilling to do. They're human beings above all else, and I honor their ability to set aside the normal instincts that follows a tragedy and allows them to do their job with dignity and professionalism.


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