Four males who fled East Palo Alto police after allegedly committing three armed robberies crashed their car through a University Avenue storefront, demolishing the front of the building and the front of their vehicle on Monday evening, Jan. 4.
Officers responded to calls of armed robberies at the intersection of Glen Way and Bay Road and on the 2600 block of Fordham Street. Police initially responded to two robberies but later upgraded the number to three. Two of the robberies occurred on Glen Way, Commander Jeff Liu said.
Police received information that a dark-colored sedan with four males inside had been involved in the robberies, Liu said. The suspects held up people on the street, taking cell phones and wallets, he added.
An officer spotted the car leaving the area of one of the robberies, and when the officer pulled up behind the car, the suspects drove away and police pursued them. The suspects lost control of the car and careened into the storefront at 2377 University, the former El Bohemio bar, at about 6:39 p.m.
Police took two of the suspects into custody and two others are still at large, Liu said. One of the suspects, Hernan Green-Villalobos, 22, of East Palo Alto, was booked on armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery charges. The second suspect was later released, Liu said.
"There are no injuries that we know of," he said.
El Bohemio went out of business years ago and was empty at the time of the incident, he added.
Fire and police personnel responded to 2377 University and blocked off about a half of a block of the one westbound lane on University. Pacific Gas & Electric workers shut off power to the building.
Sosefina Moreno, a resident who lives on nearby Cooley Avenue, said she heard the crash, which sounded like a loud boom.
"I thought it was next door. ... It sounded like they were removing the wall," she said.
The front of the building was smashed, scattering glass, wood and stucco.
"It looks like a piece of paper with the car running through it," Moreno added.
She pointed to a nearby salon that was just feet from the accident, where people were still inside. The crash could have resulted in tragedy if it had hit another building or if the bar was still open, she noted.
"It's lucky it's empty and nobody got hurt," Moreno said.