Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 28, 2012

News Digest

PG&E work likely to cause traffic problems

Pacific Gas & Electric's ongoing work to replace pipeline along Foothill Expressway and Junipero Serra Boulevard is expected to significantly affect traffic starting this week, City of Palo Alto Utilities spokeswoman Debra Katz said.

PG&E contractors will be replacing gas-transmission pipeline No. 109 during the day on Foothill/Junipero Serra from Page Mill Road to East Campus Drive. Line 109 runs through Palo Alto, Stanford and Menlo Park.

Palo Alto commuters headed northbound on Foothill will likely be delayed. The work will involve gas smells and noise.

Pipeline construction on Miranda Avenue in Palo Alto was scheduled to start at the end of September. The work will take place Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., from just east of Hillview Avenue, which is next to the entrance of the Foothills Tennis and Swimming Club, to the end of the VA hospital property.

Gunn High School students and parents should not use the Miranda bus stop area for drop-offs, Katz said. Parking will not be allowed, and traffic on Miranda will be slow.

Daily updates and a map of the work are available at www.cityofpaloalto.org/utilityprojects. Click on the PG&E link at the top.

Two arrested for burglary at old Facebook HQ

Two men were arrested Tuesday, Sept. 25, after they allegedly stole 49 laptop computers from the former corporate offices of Facebook at 1050 Page Mill Road in Palo Alto. And one of the suspects was an off-duty security guard assigned to the burglarized business, police said.

Palo Alto police received a call from another private security guard at about 1:31 a.m. after the guard interrupted a commercial burglary in progress. Facebook hires the guards to monitor the site because, while no longer regularly occupied, it still contains property belonging to the company, police said.

The guard reported that two masked men dressed all in black had just entered the building and were removing property. The guard provided a description of a getaway vehicle to the dispatcher, police said.

A police sergeant spotted the vehicle being driven by Travis Calhoun, 21, heading southbound on El Camino Real as the vehicle was about to turn left onto eastbound Page Mill Road. A second car was closely following Calhoun's vehicle, police said.

Officers stopped both vehicles on Page Mill Road at Ash Street at about 1:37 a.m. and arrested both drivers. Bins of laptop computers were spotted inside the second vehicle, which was driven by Brandon Simon, 20, the off-duty security guard. Both men are Sunnyvale residents.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto police 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Burglary suspect pleads not guilty to murder

A suspected burglar who allegedly killed a motorcyclist while leading East Palo Alto police on a car chase pleaded not guilty to murder and other felony charges Tuesday, Sept. 25, in San Mateo County Superior Court.

Eric Anthony Banford, 47, of East Palo Alto was arraigned nearly one year to the day after the collision that killed Danny Lee Dixon on Sept. 28, 2011. The fatal crash occurred when Banford's SUV slammed head-on into Dixon's motorcycle as Banford sped away from police at up to 70 mph in the oncoming lane on University Avenue.

Police investigating a call in the 400 block of Runnymede Street of a suspicious person in a yard spotted a gray Land Rover with its lights off. Officers attempted to stop Banford as he walked down the street at 5:15 a.m., but he jumped into his friend's Land Rover and drove off with two passengers inside.

Banford led police on the high-speed chase with his headlights off, running through stop signs and red lights, according to police. The two passengers yelled for him to stop, but he allegedly refused. Police say he lit up a crack pipe during the chase.

Still going in the wrong direction as he approached University Avenue and Bay Road, he swerved to avoid an oncoming truck and struck Dixon, 50, of East Palo Alto, who was traveling westbound on his motorcycle on University. The Land Rover continued for 25 yards, and Banford then jumped out and ran. He was apprehended at 1640 Bay Road.

Banford is charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter and driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act with gross negligence, evading a police officer and causing injury or death, and hit and run with death or serious bodily injury.

— Sue Dremann

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