Palo Alto police have arrested a man who they say committed a hate crime Saturday night when he yelled racial epithets and attacked two older men in a downtown parking lot, in one case smashing a cane across a victim's forehead.
Police said the attack took place just before midnight in the back corner of the Emerson Street parking lot known as "Lot A," between Lytton and University avenues. A police officer was driving past the lot when he reportedly heard a commotion. When he approached the area where the noise was coming from, he saw a man in his 60s lying on the ground in a fetal position. A man with blood on his hands and head was standing over him, holding onto a stairwell and kicking the man in his upper chest and head.
The officer ordered the assailant to stop, at which time the suspect allegedly ran into an alleyway next to the parking lot. The officer quickly caught him and took him into custody.
After further investigating, officers learned that the suspect, 26-year-old Shane Patrick Collins, had allegedly approached two men in the parking lot and begun shouting racial epithets at them. After they asked him to go away, the man walked up to them and allegedly assaulted one of them, a black man in his 50s. Police said the victim tried to defend himself with his walking cane but fell to the ground. Collins then allegedly got on top of him, took away his cane and hit him at least once in the head with the cane.
The other man, who is white, tried to escape into the alleyway but Collins allegedly chased him down and hit him in the back of the head with the cane. Police said Collins then smashed the cane into the man's forehead, breaking the cane in the process, before proceeding to punch and kick him. The assault continued until the officer interfered.
Police said the victim who was being attacked at the time of the officer's arrival sustained two cuts to the head. The other victim suffered one head wound. Both were treated at the scene and released, with Palo Alto Fire Department officials offering medical assistance. Collins also had a cut on his forehead, though police said the cause was unknown. He was taken to a local hospital for a medical clearance before being booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail.
Collins was charged with two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon, one count of felony robbery for taking the cane, a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, and a hate crime.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.