Knife-wielding man arrested at Palo Alto senior home

Police: Alleged thief dared officers to shoot, kill him

A man who allegedly pulled a knife on police officers on Monday was arrested after an officer tackled him from behind and disarmed him, according to the Palo Alto Police Department.

Martin Robert Shelley, 47, of San Jose, was booked into the Santa Clara Main Jail for brandishing and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors. A felony probation violation was added to the charges after it was discovered that Shelley is on active probation in Santa Clara County stemming from a felony conviction of driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, police said.

At about 8:05 p.m. Monday, a police officer responding to an unrelated call at the Stanford Shopping Center on El Camino Real observed security personnel following a man as he left the shopping center. He had reportedly thrown things inside the Starbucks coffee shop and allegedly stole from various stores. Security asked for police assistance as they followed him to Vi at Palo Alto, a senior-living facility, at 620 Sand Hill Road.

Shelley went inside the facility, police said, and a short time later, as officers were preparing to go inside the building to search for him, Shelley walked out. Officers ordered him to stop, but Shelley repeatedly refused and then ran along the outside of the building. He pulled out a pocket knife with a 1 1/2-inch blade and pointed it at the officers, police said. Shelley stopped running and started yelling at the officers after they surrounded him.

Police officers ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused and dared them multiple times to shoot and kill him, police said. During the standoff, an officer tackled Shelley from behind and disarmed him. Several officers then struggled with Shelley until they safely handcuffed him.

Shelley sustained a minor injury to the left side of his forehead as a result of landing on the ground after being tackled, police said. Shelley was transported to a local hospital where he was medically cleared. No officers were injured during the incident, and no one at Vi at Palo Alto was injured or a victim of any crime as a result of the incident, police said.

Shelley was in possession of items that appeared to be from different stores at the Stanford Shopping Center. It is unclear at this time if those items were legitimately purchased or stolen, according to police.

"Our officers were confronted with an armed, belligerent suspect," police spokesman Lt. Zach Perron stated in a press release. "They exercised tremendous restraint under very challenging circumstances."

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

What is community worth to you?
Support local journalism.


42 people like this
Posted by Phil
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 21, 2015 at 11:36 pm

A story about a spike in bike thefts receives 42 comments to date, with many criticizing our police department of not caring, being overpaid, and generally dismissive. A story about officers taking an irrational, possibly psychotic and suicidal man threatening people with a knife safely into custody, without anyone getting hurt, and here's the first comment. What a sad statement. Allow me to be the first. Thank you to the officers for dealing with these difficult situations. It does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

10 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2015 at 1:18 am

Sparty is a registered user.

Well on story was up for 3 hours, the other for over 24.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2015 at 7:49 am

Scary situation, but good to know PAPD were able to catch him.

4 people like this
Posted by Clinical Legal Professional
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Clinical Legal Professional is a registered user.

According to this article, Mr. Shelley’s behavior indicates he was a danger to himself and others. The article suggests this was a suicide attempt and that Mr. Shelley was experiencing impulsive and possibly psychotic behavior. I’m concerned that any hospital would medically “clear” him. It sounds like he is suffering from a brain circuitry disorder not a moral failing. Thus, he should have been hospitalized, stabilized on medication and then transitioned into outpatient treatment.

Mr. Shelley will not receive adequate treatment in any correctional facility. They are not designed to treat complex brain disorders. He will likely endure a worsened course of illness and irreversible brain damage while incarcerated. He may commit suicide. When or if he returns to society it will be much more difficult to medically treat his brain illness. Thus, he may continue to cycle in and out of the criminal justice system. This will have a negative effect on Mr. Shelley’s quality of life and ours.

3 people like this
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

It certainly sounds like he has mental problems which contributed to his behaviour. Good job PAPD for arresting him with no serious injuries to themselves and anyone at the Mall. He probably needs help besides prison.

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

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Nationally renowned Indian restaurant expanding to Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,892 views

Summer travel: Is anything changing?
By Sherry Listgarten | 14 comments | 1,303 views

Premarital and Couples: "Our Deepest Fear" by Marianne Williamson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,156 views

Cap On? Cap Off? Recycling Bottles is Confusing
By Laura Stec | 20 comments | 1,003 views