Man arrested on suspicion of hate crime in Palo Alto

Incident occurred in Emerson Street parking lot

Palo Alto police arrested a Mountain View man Sunday night after he yelled racial epithets and threatened a man in a downtown parking lot.

Police said the incident happened at around 11:45 p.m. on April 19 in a parking lot on 539 Emerson St. The victim, a black man in his 30s, called police from a business in the 500 block of Ramona Street reporting a possible carjacking attempt. Police officers who responded to the scene located Tony Smith, 61, standing outside of the business holding a small knife with a two-inch blade. Officers took Smith into custody without incident.

Investigators said the victim was sitting in his parked car with the engine running when Smith opened the front passenger side door, said he had a gun and threatened to kill the driver. The victim did not see a gun but got out of his car. As the man backed away, Smith said a racial epithet and repeated his threat, police said.

The victim went inside a nearby business to call police because he had left his cellphone in his car, which was still running. Investigators said Smith followed the man and was looking for him when police arrived. There was no indication that Smith attempted to take the man's car.

Police found methamphetamine but no gun in Smith's belongings. Smith was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony criminal threats and felony hate crime, as well as misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine.

Anyone with information pertaining to this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

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9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 20, 2015 at 11:10 am

We are glad that the victim was able to safely get away and call the police.

Is Mr. Smith a Palo Alto resident? What was he doing in that part of town? Just looking for trouble? Selling drugs?

5 people like this
Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2015 at 11:44 am


The first sentence states that Mr. Smith is a Mountain View resident.

2 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2015 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2015 at 2:58 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 21, 2015 at 1:30 am

With a middle initial we might be able to google this guy all the way back to Louisiana.

Like this comment
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:53 am

[Post removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Street preacher
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 21, 2015 at 11:04 am

This man needs help to conquer his drug addiction,
while most people just have written him off as some "hopeless tramp"
My God has not written him off, instead is the only real hope to
this and other human problems. Pride and greed is just as despicable
to God, as this fellow is to most of us.
To those who profess to be of the Christian faith, we are commanded
to pray for one another. I hope that he gets help, but doubt that
the help will come from any government agency. He will be released
in 72 hours to perpetrate some other event, never finding the needed help .

3 people like this
Posted by RogerD
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

RogerD is a registered user.

My one criticism of this report is the reference to it being a hate crime.
Ok the guy used a derogatory term, doesn't mean he hates.
Sensationalism rears its ugly head,can't we be sensible.

Like this comment
Posted by RogerD
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 21, 2015 at 1:24 pm

RogerD is a registered user.

As for Street Preacher, your God made him what he is, or does that run contrary to your faith.
God acts in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.
The man is sick, he needs help, buy no one can force him to get that help if he doesn't want it. In order for any treatment to work the individual needs to self admit to having the problem and want cleansed.

2 people like this
Posted by rick
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 3:37 pm

rick is a registered user.

@RogerD -- "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform"

Many Palo Altans have no idea what the namesake of Cowper Street wrote.
Variety's the very spice of life.

Like this comment
Posted by RogerD
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 21, 2015 at 11:30 pm

RogerD is a registered user.

Thanks Rick for correcting my grammatical error, pity your missed the point though. This issue is way bigger than Palo Alto.

1 person likes this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:47 am

ChrisC is a registered user.

Thank you PAPD for disarming and arresting this man without the sort of extreme measures we are hearing on the news from some other US cities.

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

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