News


Police arrest suspects in violent Caltrain assault

Two men arrested for brutal attack at Redwood City Caltrain station; victim still in critical condition

Two suspects in the March 4 assault and robbery at the Redwood City Caltrain Station have been arrested by transit police, Caltrain announced Friday (March 11).

Damar Desean Walker, 19, and Thomas Nicholas Furman, 18, both of Redwood City, were arrested on charges of robbery and assault with great bodily injury. Walker was already in custody on unrelated robbery charges, according to Caltrain.

Both men are scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Friday (March 11) in San Mateo Superior Court in Redwood City.

Walker and Furman are accused of being part of a group of assailants who robbed a 47-year-old San Jose man at the Caltrain station around 7:30 p.m. The victim, whose name has not been released, remains in critical condition at a local hospital, a Caltrain press release stated.

Prior to the arrests, three search warrants were executed in Redwood City and East Palo Alto. Evidence recovered during the searches, along with other leads developed in the case, has provided investigators with important information that will help locate other suspects, according to Caltrain.

"We are confident that everyone responsible will be brought to justice," Caltrain Chief of Protective Services Dave Triolo said.

"This incident is an extremely rare occurrence in the Caltrain system and we want to deliver a clear message: commit a crime and face a swift and effective response from law enforcement."

More than 20 police personnel from the transit police, the Detective Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and deputies from the Street Crimes Suppression Unit are participating in the collaborative investigation, which is led by Transit Police Detective Victor Lopez, Triolo said.

Additional details cannot be released because this remains an active investigation, Caltrain officials said.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact Detective Lopez at 650-622-8048.

Sue Dremann

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Is-Riding-Caltrain-Safe?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

> More than 20 police personnel from the transit police, the Detective
> Bureau of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and deputies
> from the Street Crimes Suppression Unit are participating in
> the collaborative investigation, which is led by Transit Police
> Detective Victor Lopez,
> Triolo said.

While it's good to hear that at least two people have possibly been identified in this assault investigation, the situation does give us pause to wonder if there really is any safety designed into the Caltrain stations, such as surveillance cameras and "panic stations". But what's not well described in these articles appearing in the papers is that the local police don't have any direct responsibility for crimes/accidents that occur on Caltrain property in their jurisdictions. The San Mateo Sheriff's Office is the lead agency (if memory serves), with every other police department not directly involved in investigation of these sorts of crimes, unless specifically tasked by the San Mateo Sheriff.

Given the scarcity of information available to investigations initially, other than the memory of the victim, investigating this particular crime would seem to require the resources of the local police departments. Certainly these departments are more knowledgeable of the gangs operating in their jurisdictions than an umbrella agency might have.

It's likely that the people who did this live in Redwood City, or East Palo Alto. If the victim were able to identify mug shots (even though his condition has been described as "critical" since the attack), then trying to show the man as many of these local agency mug shots as possible would perhaps help to get the identifies of one, or more, of the attackers. Presumably these mug shots are on-line. But is there any way to allow other law enforcement agencies to get access to them on-line? Are the numerous law enforcement agencies that "wired", and that aware of the need to exchange this sort of information?

Usually street police have their sources. Hopefully the San Mateo County Sheriff has coordinated with local jurisdictions to insure that any information about these attackers that might have gotten out because of bragging on their part is collected by local jurisdictions, and forwarded to the investigating team. Unfortunately, inter-agency jurisdictions sometimes result in a lack of, or slow, communication between individuals/teams. Given the terseness of the media reports, its not at all clear how much inter-agency cooperation is in place, in general, or for situations like this one.

We can only hope that the officers investigating this crime are successful in their quest. But the underlying issues about the lack of preventative safety practices being "designed into" the Caltrain public spaces still remains. Also open for public scrutiny is the nature of "policing" in the Caltrain system. Are there adequate police resources to keep people safe? And for those who say "Yes"--how can you prove your point-of-view?

While still not a reality, the HSR also has a similar problem of having to provide security for passengers when using the system. The problems with the unaccountability of the BART police has not been really discussed, even though there was a tragic killing a year, or so, ago. It was clear at the time that there was little/no accountability of the BART police force. With the HST possibly being several hundred miles long, passing through several counties, and many cities--we're left with the possibility of an HSR police force of possibly 1000 sworn officers, that are unaccountable to anyone.

Caltrain management has not only shown itself to be incapable of "running a railroad", but has also demonstrated itself to have little interest in designing in the highest level of passenger safety into the system. Our local elected officials have demonstrated little interest in this matter. Even the problem of sufficient safety on the at-grade crossings, that have resulted in any number of deaths and car accidents, seem to be totally ignored by local officials. Reasonable people keep asking: "why"?

When thinking about this issues, it's only natural to ask: "Is riding Caltrain really safe?"


Like this comment
Posted by how dangerous is Caltrain?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

I hear about robberies and street violence on the street all the time (even downtown Palo Alto). This is the first violent attack that I have ever heard of happening at a Caltrain station. How dangerous is Caltrain really?

Yes, there was a string of muggings a couple of years ago at the pedestrian tunnel next to the California Ave. Caltrain station, but I believe that that tunnel is owned and policed by the city, not by Caltrain.


Like this comment
Posted by Is-Riding-Caltrain-Safe?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:44 am

> This is the first violent attack that I have ever heard of
> happening at a Caltrain station

Caltrain does not make public a list of crimes/attacks/etc. at its stations. Unless one happens to be interested in this sort of thing, one might not be aware of any crime on Caltrain property. For instance, if there were a robbery of a passenger at the Gilroy station, would the Palo Alto local papers carry this sort of information? Probably not.

A couple of articles quote Caltrain people saying: "I can't remember .." without even providing a time frame for how long that employee had worked for the agency. One would have hoped that there would be a comprehensive set of crime reports on file at Caltrain headquarters, and that anyone speaking about this crime would have at least referenced that set of reports. But is there? And then there is the issue of records retention. How long does Caltrain keep these records? Do they share them with other agencies? Or does Caltrain keep this information "private"?

Most of these topics are not of much interest to the average person, until he/she becomes the victim of a crime. Right now, there doesn't seem to be much transparency associated with any of the policing functions of the various transportation agencies around the state. Sadly, this topic has never been of much interest to elected officials, either.


Like this comment
Posted by how dangerous is Caltrain?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:48 am

You think crimes at Caltrain stations are somehow censored from the police log? I do not believe you.


Like this comment
Posted by Is-Riding-Caltrain-Safe?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

> This is the first violent attack that I have ever heard of
> happening at a Caltrain station

Seems it happened here in Palo Alto in 2008:
Web Link

Thursday, August 21, 2008, 3:12 PM

A 19-year-old man was mugged early Thursday as he was leaving the University Avenue Caltrain station, Palo Alto Police Agent Dan Ryan said.
---

Luckily the Weekly keeps an archive of its web site. Not certain that this information is archived at the Caltrain web site.


Like this comment
Posted by Is-Riding-Caltrain-Safe?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2011 at 10:51 am

> You think crimes at Caltrain stations are somehow censored
> from the police log?

That is not what is being discussed here. What is being discussed here is that local police do not have (typically) jurisdiction on Caltrain property. So, if the crimes/attacks are not investigated by a local police agency, it will not have a log entry.

Please try to read the entries, and comment on issues that are actually a part of the post and not try to derail the discussion with "crazy talk".


Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

I do not know the specific law(s) governing police authority on Caltrain property - but local police certainly do have authority on Caltrain property. I've seen them make arrests there and I've seen them called by Caltrain to remove passengers from a train.

But I'd sugest that Caltrain is probably a safe place since it is a busy place even at night. There are almost always other passengers there who can call police if something bad is happening. I don't know why that didn't happen (or maybe it did happen) in this case at Redwood City.


Like this comment
Posted by larry
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Does Is-Riding-Caltrain-Safe?, have an axe to grind with Caltrain. Seems to me through my daily riding experience, that's it's probably safer than walking many of the tree-shaded streets of Palo Alto


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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