Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 19, 2010

News Digest

Tough week for would-be robbers

In three unrelated incidents in Palo Alto this week, potential victims fought off their robbers twice on Tuesday night, while a wannabe robber of the Midtown 7-11 Sunday night ran off after failing to take cash the clerk tried to hand him.

The first of the attempted robberies on Tuesday took place around 9:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Talisman Court. The victim was approached as he got out of his car by a man who walked into his 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.

The suspect in that robbery was described as a black man between 18 and 22 years old with a slim build, police said.

The second robbery attempt took place at 10:03 p.m. in the 900 block of University Avenue, police said.

A fight broke out between the victim, a man in his 30s, and three suspects, one of whom showed a gun and demanded money, police said. The suspects eventually fled. 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.

One of the would-be robbers 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. 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.

In the incident at the 7-11, a 4:28 a.m. robbery attempt involved a young man in his early 20s wearing a white hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his face, according to Lt. Sandra Brown.

She said he entered the store at 708 Colorado Ave., pulled a gun and demanded money. The clerk offered him cash but instead he grabbed a woman customer and again demanded money.

"The clerk continued to offer the money," Brown reported. But instead "the suspect hesitated then fled the store, running east on Colorado Avenue." He took nothing with him, and neither the clerk nor the woman customer were injured, Brown reported.

The robber was described as black, about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, she said.

Police are using the robbery attempts as a way to remind residents to be as aware as possible of their surroundings, particularly after dark. 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."

Anyone with information about the two attempted robberies on Tuesday is encouraged to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413 or leave anonymous tips at 650-383-8984.

Google to build fiber network at Stanford

Palo Alto's dream of a citywide ultra-high-speed broadband network will soon take shape on a smaller scale just beyond the city's borders, thanks to a pilot project Google plans to unveil on Stanford University campus early next year.

The Mountain-view based tech giant plans to construct a fiber network for about 850 homes leased by Stanford faculty and staff. The network, once built, would enable users to connect to the Internet at speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, which the company says is "more than 100 times faster than what most people have access to today."

The project would be a smaller version of the highly anticipated Google Fiber project, which the company announced in February to great fanfare. Palo Alto is one of hundreds of cities nationwide that yearns to be selected by Google for this project, which would give every household and business in the city high-speed Internet access.

Google plans to install a termination point and a dedicated fiber at each home and give each household the option of connecting to the fiber network, according to James Sweeney, president of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders. Those who opt in would be charged $250 for installation, or $50 if they choose to receive a self-install kit. They would then receive free ultra-high-speed Internet access for a year, after which time Google would charge a rate that has yet to be determined.

— Gennady Sheyner

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