East Palo Alto priest assaulted in church parking lot


A man who allegedly beat an 89-year-old priest with his own cane pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court in a bizarre attack that injured four people.

Juan A. Perez, 41, of East Palo Alto faces five felony counts in connection with the July 13 attack of Father John Coleman, a priest at St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto.

Coleman was walking in the church parking lot, at 1425 Bay Road, at about 9:30 a.m. when Perez allegedly pushed him to the ground, took his metal cane and began beating the priest until the cane broke, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's office. Perez was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine, but there is no known reason for the attack, according to the DA's office.

A man attempted to disarm Perez but was also struck with the remaining pieces of the cane. As Perez fled, two brothers who also saw the attack pursued Perez, who allegedly swung at them with the cane multiple times before being subdued by both brothers. None of the victims were seriously hurt, but they sustained bruises and lacerations, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. All were treated by paramedics at the scene.

Perez faces one county of felony elder abuse and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He remains in custody on $175,000 bail. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 27.

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13 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

[Post removed.]

13 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm

[Post removed.]

23 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm

What a horrifying crime. This could easily have been a murder. Thank you to those who stepped up to help Father Coleman and also caught the attacker. It's a huge relief that community members were on hand to make such a difference.

9 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm

[Post removed.]

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