Palo Alto robbery suspect identified, sought by police

Two men arrested, one at large, after purse snatching near Wells Fargo Bank

A man who evaded police capture after a robbery outside Wells Fargo Bank on South California Avenue on Aug. 1 has been identified and is being sought by Palo Alto police.

Gerardo Yepez Soto, 21, of Redwood City, is being sought by police in connection with the 11:05 a.m. robbery, during which a female victim, an employee of McDonald's, was in the process of taking a large cash deposit from the business to the bank.

As the victim neared the bank, a male suspect, identified as Ismael Aquino-Flores, 20, of Redwood City, approached the victim and forcefully removed her purse, which contained several thousand dollars, police said.

Aquino-Flores fled to a waiting green Honda Accord. An associated silver Honda, which was waiting nearby also fled the scene.

A witness at the scene described the two vehicles. Palo Alto police fanned out and quickly caught up to both vehicles.

A detective working undercover spotted the two vehicles on Churchill Avenue. She followed the two cars until additional police units arrived.

Attempting to evade police, the two vehicles split up.

Police stopped the silver Honda Civic at Greer Road and Tulip Lane and arrested Fabian Delgadillo, 21, of Redwood City.

The green Honda Accord was pulled over in Old Palo Alto, near the intersection of Coleridge Avenue and Cowper Street, police Sgt. Wayne Benitez said. Aquino-Flores was taken into custody.

Yepez Soto, the driver, fled on foot through residential back yards. Police summoned a canine unit and a California Highway Patrol helicopter to the scene to search for the suspect and had cruisers positioned at major intersections around the neighborhood.

Yepez Soto was able to escape.

Detectives discovered that the three suspects acted together to carry out the robbery. Yepez Soto worked with the victim at McDonald's and had knowledge regarding when and where cash deposits were to be made, police said.

All of the stolen property was recovered and returned to the victim. Aquino-Flores and Delgadillo were arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on one count each of conspiracy and robbery.

Yepez Soto is described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and wearing white clothes.

An email was sent to neighborhood groups from the Santa Clara County Emergency Alert System (AlertSCC) at approximately 1:45 p.m. with the following statement: "This is a follow up message to the police action in the 500 block of Coleridge. The police action is completed. There is no indication that the subject is still in the area. Thank you from the Palo Alto Police Department."

Anyone with information about Yepez Soto's location is encouraged to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to, or anonymous voicemails and text messages can be sent to 650-383-8984.

Gennady Sheyner

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Like this comment
Posted by Miriam
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm

And we have yet to hear from the police about this! My neighbor informed me at 12:10, and Online finally posted a story at 12:39. Has he been apprehended or not?

Like this comment
Posted by Tina
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm

LET THE COPS DO THEIR JOB!! Would have liked them to have one cop leave the search to come in and put out the message to you? I am sure you will say yes. But remember they only have 6 cops working for the entire city of palo alto ( menlo to mt view, east palo alto to Santa Cruz border) All they want to do is catch the bad guy and keep us safe.

PAPD be safe out there. Your community supports you!! Do your job, I pray that you all go home safe at night!

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Ryan
a resident of University South
on Aug 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I'd like to say that I very much appreciate the work that was done by the police in this case. Look how quickly they identified the vehicles and stopped them - not so easy folks. People don't always give the best description.

Congratulations Palo Alto Police. Thank you and stay safe.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Tina, I don't think Miriam wanted what you suggested; however, Miriam is absolutely correct that the police might have put out a bulletin. My daughter was biking around the neighborhood to a friend's house. We were frightened to learn that there was a robber running through her friend's backyard moments before she arrived. I would have kept her at home had i known there was such a risk! We have an alert system and this is certainly a time when it ought to have been utilized. All local residents should have been told to keep indoors with windows and doors locked. It should not detract from police resources to put out an alert.

Like this comment
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I'm with Miriam !

Like this comment
Posted by Shawntee
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Hats off to the PAPD. Tulip was full of people and children and the officers made sure everyone was moved to a safe location during this troubling time. A lot of officers, a lot of guns and a lot of safety.

Good job.

Like this comment
Posted by waeup
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

guns equal safety?? people are more asleep than we thought! no cure for an inherently competitive/violent ''society''.

Like this comment
Posted by wow
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Mom and miriam, you do not get it. It does detract from resources. Apprehending the problem criminals is first, public information second. Good Job PAPD!

Like this comment
Posted by Alvin York
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

The animal kingdom is the most inherently competitive/violent "society" that I know of. Life feeds off of life unless you are like most plants. As they used to say "God made man but Colt made them equal." It's not the uniform of that policewoman that should make a criminal fearful.

Like this comment
Posted by dont pick the wrong one
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm


Like this comment
Posted by 50 years in Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Good job PAPD. I was on Tulip lane when the arrest was happening. Very Professional and kept the public safe while suspect was arrested. Thanks for getting the suspects car off the street so quickly.
Great job.

Like this comment
Posted by pa mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 7:59 am

No, Wow, YOU don't get it. While the police are heroically pursuing this criminal (many thanks to our brave officers), the robber at large might have grabbed my daughter or entered an unlocked home. This would have made matters much worse for the community and much more dangerous for the police.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 10:32 am

Hey PA Mom, and to those few critics, I'm not positive, but while in the midst of chasing down dangerous criminals, catching two, and having to pursue a third, do you think the police might have their hands full. They're already operating with less officers, and from what I have learned the daytime staffing could run as low as 6-8 people. After catching the first two, they probably needed at least 2-3 officers to attend to them, all the while still trying to corral and chase down the third guy.

The way I see it, whatever resources or people they have should be devoted to catching the guy on the loose, and not expended on giving some of our high-maintenance, entitled residents a blow by blow update. That is precisely the safest course of action for everyone including yourselves. It appears they got the information out, and I'm trusting they did it as soon as they could.

Great job PAPD. Most of us know you have a difficult, and often time thankless job. Take heart that the majority of us truly appreciate what you do.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

Rob - dead on.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2011 at 11:12 am

The thought occurs that while the cops in the field were legitimately too busy apprehending crooks to sent out an alert, couldn't the dispatch officer back in headquarters have initiated the alert process? Clearly, they were getting the best information available regarding what neighborhood the crook was in and could have easily passed this along in the alert message.
Could someone explain how this alert system works as I'm from Menlo Park, which as far as I know, doesn't provide such a service.

Like this comment
Posted by pa mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

Rob, Crescent Park Dad, et al:
It is unfortunate that you choose to make assumptions about me. Let me tell you the facts. My young daughter rode her bike three blocks to a friend's house, where shortly before a robber (possibly armed) had run through her friend's back yard, pursued by police. Both she and her friend were frightened by this. It is not difficult to imagine that the suspect might have taken my daughter hostage, or she might have walked into a shooting situation. Had we been notified, i would have kept her at home. In addition, the robber might have entered any one of many unlocked homes, since people weren't made aware of the need to secure their homes. Surely if you put yourself in my place you can understand why notification should have gone out. I am not "entitled" or whatever your assumptions about me are. i choose not to make unfavorable assumptions about you; i think if you understand the full situation, you will appreciate my concern. I am not asking for the police to stop pursuing, but the department also consists of communication liasons and other staff. For the sake of safety, these systems need to be activated. I am not criticizing the police but let's learn from this. The department needs to improve its alert system. Criticizing me, or ignoring a deficiency in the system does not enhance safety.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 11:45 am

And what you assume is a flaw in the system, I choose to assume what were unavoidable circumstances Mom. The police can't be everywhere at once, nor may they have the luxury of activating an alert system that I'm quite sure involves more than just pushing a button. The police have priorities, and the first priority was to safely pursue the criminals. Notifications are also a priority, and fact is they did activate the system at a time which I choose to assume was their first available opportunity, and when they had all the necessary facts to put out accurate information. They also sent out an update, again, when they probably had enough information to do so. All this during dangerous, rapidly changing circumstances.

There are limitations in what the police or anyone can do. This wasn't an episode of your favorite television police drama. It's called reality, and judging from the results I'd say our police department did a terrific job.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

pa mom, I'm with you in that I get what you are saying. I know how surprised I would be if a criminal leaped across my fence; there are also small children around here. People without dependent children are unaware of that concern.
I think persons who are in effect bank robbers are dangerous and wonder why police HQ couldn't issue an immediate alert in this type of case. This does not elay or stop the pursuing officers. No, it is not necessary in every case, we understand.

Like this comment
Posted by pa mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

The emergency notification system will always, by definition, be needed in emergencies. That it cannot be adequately activated to at least the neighborhood where a robber is at large, demonstrates that it is not optimally functional. I still have not, to this moment, received any official notification! Yet, i live a few blocks from the incident. It is not my point to criticize the police who do an excellent job in P.A. However, knee jerk defense of the police will not improve an emergency warning system which failed. Such a failure not only endangered my child, it might have endangered officers who would have put their lives on the line to protect her. Let's pull together and recognize a deficiency and make it better. Next time, a failure to adequately notify the affected neighborhood may have deadly consequences.
By the way, Rob. The primary job of the police is not to pursue criminals; it is to protect the public.

Like this comment
Posted by smarter
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Tulip Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm

This happened on my street. It is not realistic to ask the 6-8 police staff to put out alert when in hot pursuit of three separate possible robbers. It would be nice if those police can solve deficit and unemployment at the same time too, but composing e-mail, phone messages, or letter to be mailed to homes is not necessarily the best use of decreased resource at that time. Dispatcher still has to keep monitoring the system and recruit assistance since with passage of time, the range of scene was widening; so containment is better than information. Good job PAPD.

Like this comment
Posted by Get the facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm

@pa mom's comments:

Let's not make assumptions about whether the PAPD could have sent out an alert to warn pa mom and others who might have family members in harm's way. I would recommend that pa mom go down to the PAPD and discuss her concerns with someone in charge. That is the only way that she can find out if things could have happened more "optimally". I think that fact that they were hunting down suspects would be considered "protecting the public". I would not make any assumptions about their failures (in pa mom's opinion that is) without being armed with all the facts.

Like this comment
Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I agree with pa mom. I agree completely.
The police may indeed be doing a fine job. That does not mean there aren't areas for improvement.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm

My last time weighing in on this Mom. Common sense dictates that by virtue of chasing down and capturing two dangerous criminals, as well as continuing the pursuit of a third, the police are in fact "protecting the public". The best way to protect the public in this situation was to catch the criminals. If any secondary-priority delay, like a public notification, would increase the chances of the criminals getting away, then we might have something to complain about. Wow, should go without saying huh?

I also believe, and don't expect them to always be able to send out a notification as timely as you'd like, which you seem to believe can be accomplished by a wave of the hand. I can only imagine how chaotic a situation like that plays out, and I'm sure it includes the support staff who are already busy helping what few officers we have doing the work. Bottom line, the world can be a dangerous place at times, even here in Palo Alto. The police seem to have a done a tremendous job under very dangerous and chaotic circumstances. I'm sure they did the best they could with the resources they have, and applaud their accomplishment without any entitled second-guessing.

Like this comment
Posted by City Employee
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm

We need to all realize what the primary function of the Emergency Alerting System is and why it came about.

It's there to alert a large number of residents in a reasonable amount of time as to major events occurring in the City and what if any action should be taken. This would be in cases of flood, earthquake, or other natural disaster etc. This was a direct result of flooding incidents in the past.

It was never intended to provide up to date or blow by blow accounts of active pursuit of suspects in the field or everytime the police chase a criminal through a neighborhood. The police will never be able to live up to that standard given what they have to do or what the dispatchers are doing to support their operations.

Having said that, we have on several occassions tried when possible to alert neighborhoods to large scale police actions when we can. This would include times when a large number of officers may be searching for a suspect or a helicopter flying overhead etc.

Unfortunately the use of this great tool may now have created an unrealistic expectaion about what information and how fast that information can be put out.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Anyone who speaks english can get a fair realtime idea of what's happening by tuning in 482.6125 MHz. Impractical to monitor 24/7 but useful when I hear excessive sirens or see unusual police activity.

The person most needing an alert was the unfortunate lady walking out of the bank. While some incidents cannot be avoided, too many of us are perpetually unalert.

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Little to complain about in this police action and reporting .. but what about immigration status? Will ICE be involved? Are all three of them here legally? If any of these guys was working at McDonald's .. then they should have Green Cards. If they were working illegally, or with forged documents--will the Palo Alto Police call in the Feds?

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm

In addition to their immigration status and any gang affiliations, where was the parental influence and participation in the lives of these young criminals. Absolutely disgusting.

Like this comment
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Yet another reason not to eat at McDonald's.

Like this comment
Posted by Newsflash!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm

To those who think the cops screwed up by not issuing an alert while in pursuit of a felon: There are robbers, murderers, rapists, and other types of felons everywhere. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOUSE!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Amazed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 8:18 pm

City Employee is right....the EAS was instituted as part of the emergency preparedness efforts and is to be used for large scale, natural and man-made disasters, and emergencies. It is NOT a Facebook status post or a Twitter blog. Get real.

Like this comment
Posted by Teddie
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Palo Alto Mom thinks that a robber escaping from police dogs and helicopters is going to take time out from that to assault her daughter or herself! The guy had one thing on his mind an managed to accomplish that - getting away for the moment. They know his name and his employer and they will likely soon have him, too.

Like this comment
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Aug 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I am completely in support of PAPD and am grateful for their risking their lives for us. I don't think they had time to send out a message to the city while in pursuit of the suspect. To me, it's more important for them to reel in the criminal than to notify the public.

pamom is delusional to think she deserved an alert from PAPD. Statements such as hers proves a selfish, irrational person: "The primary job of the police is not to pursue criminals; it is to protect the public." Clearly, apprehending the criminal before he can harm others is priority.

Per the article, however, which stated an alert went out to neighborhoods, I did not receive one either by phone or email and I am in charge of our neighborhood communication. So there must be an error in the article.

Like this comment
Posted by pa mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I am "delusional", "irrational", "selfish", "hysterical" because, after commending our local P.D., i critiqued the alert system and suggested improvements? What has happened to Palo Alto? These are not the words of thoughtful, considerate people. I have lived here most of my life and never been the recipient of so many rude comments.
What has happened to the people of Palo Alto? Or is it just a few people under stress behaving poorly? I am a real person here. Would you say these things to my face? Would you say them without cover of anonymity? Didn't think so.

Like this comment
Posted by Sigh
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm

What has happened? What has happened is that people who know what the main use of the alert system is for correctly criticized you. Your child wasn't the only one at risk, if it was at risk at all. It wasn't all about your family even if you pretend otherwise.

Like this comment
Posted by Another PA Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Thank you City Employee for the clear explanation of the alert system which has been very useful in other situations (e.g., plane crash taking out the power lines), and is not intended to be used in every situation.

As the article describes, the criminals fled quickly and were speeding throughout the city. Seems to me that by the time an alert for one neighborhood could be activated, the criminals would have fled to another part of the city. Let's try to be a bit realistic here!

I agree that overall, kudos to the police for a job well done and for keeping us safe by getting the criminals off the streets.

Like this comment
Posted by wows
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2011 at 7:21 am

whether you agree or disagree with PA Mo's sentiments, she;s absolutely right to question why folks have to act so rudely in an onllne discussion. I do think it has to do with anonymity.

All the name-calling and assigned personal characteristics would not occur in a face-to-face discussion or debate, so curb your tendencies to lash out at posters simply because you don't agree with their opinion,

PA mom - I would second "Get the Facts" post suggesting ways to find out more about practical applications and limitations of existing alert system.

Like this comment
Posted by A mom too
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2011 at 9:06 am

Different question on this topic...I received an alert from the police on both my home and cell phone on Monday around 12:30-12:45 saying that there was a burgular [maybe they said robber] at loose around the 500 block of Coleridge and that we should stay inside and lock our doors until we were advised further. It also said that police and helicopters were in the neighborhood and described what the man was wearing an asked that we alert the police [but not approach him] if we saw him. The way the message was phrased I assumed it was a home burgulary on that block...was this the same instance?

BTW...I was much appreciative of receiving the alert and revised my plans to be in my backyard at the time. I received a second call about 1 hour later saying the police assumed he was gone from the neighborhood and it was okay to go back outside.

Like this comment
Posted by B. Li
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

I wonder why the local press hasn't taken any interest in several recent unrelated arrests made by the men and woman of the PAPD during the past few weeks, involving suspects armed with guns. Quite often we residents tend to focus too much on what we think should be done w/out having full knowledge of the great job the PAPD is doing out there. Two loaded guns found in one car with a baby in it and a loaded gun recovered from a parolee sounds like damn great police work to me and several dangerous suspects are no longer travelling through our serene City! Keep up the awesome work and be safe out there PAPD!

Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

I am so tired of loser criminals who are so narcissistic and entitled that they believe the property of others can be and should be appropriated by thugs.

Like this comment
Posted by Anne
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm

There are people out there who believe that the world owes them something because life is not fair. It's not. For everyone, in some way or another. There does seem to have an increase in reported robberies, but given the economy, not surprising, just sad. The police are doing the best they can in a given situation.

Like this comment
Posted by The Obvious
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Having read "PA Mom"'s reasonable expectations & "City Employee"'s reply that put this issue into perspective, proves that citizens & staff can indeed have healthy dialog, communication based on *facts* & even reach agreement.

This blog contains *valuable information* for everyone in Palo Alto -from upper management in the city, to the residents, businesses & visitors they serve, regarding respectful communication & conflict resolution.

So I hope the comments in this blog are studied. In a nutshell, this blog can be profoundly helpful in PA to nudge *communication* in the community back towards health.

To PA Mom -
I'm happy your little one stayed safe in the midst of such a stressful situation. You are to be commended for being protective of her and of other's children too. She is fortunate to have you... if only there were more like you, willing to speak up. You are wise to choose to live in a community where a perpetrator, like this one, was identified so quickly by law enforcement.

It sounds as if the Emergency Alert System was activated on a limited scale - re: Coleridge Ave. So tweaking it further, such as you suggested, bears thought.

This reminded me of several years ago, when a mountain lion wandered into a residential neighborhood in PA. That was, I think, before the emergency alert system was in place.

Like this comment
Posted by entrou
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by fact
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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

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