Wanted felon arrested after manhunt in Palo Alto | News | Palo Alto Online |


Wanted felon arrested after manhunt in Palo Alto

South Palo Alto schools placed on lockdown while police searched for Mountain View man

Palo Alto police arrested a wanted felon following a manhunt that prompted the lockdown of several south Palo Alto schools on Wednesday, according to a police department press release.

At about 9:35 a.m., police received a call from a house cleaner on the 300 block of Creekside Drive reporting a suspicious man loitering in the area. Officers who arrived on scene located the man and recognized him as Timothy Angelo Molinari, 32, of Mountain View, a wanted fugitive, police said.

A police officer tried to detain Molinari, but Molinari fled east on the 300 block of Parkside Drive. The officer chased after Molinari, but lost sight of him as he ran through the Cubberley Community Center campus.

Police then started receiving calls from residents of the Greenmeadow and Fairmeadow neighborhoods about a man running through backyards and climbing over fences, police said.

Around 11:30 a.m., police received a tip that Molinari might be inside a residence on the 3900 block of El Camino Real. Molinari was located inside the residence and was taken into custody without incident, police said.

During the manhunt, six schools in the area were placed on "precautionary lockdowns," including Hoover Elementary School, Fairmeadow Elementary School, Keys School, Greendell School, AchieveKids school and JLS Middle School.

Molinari was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for one felony count of failing to properly register as a sex offender and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest. He was also booked for two outstanding felony warrants (possession of stolen property from the Mountain View Police Department and violation of parole), as well as two outstanding misdemeanor warrants (possession of drug paraphernalia from the Palo Alto Police Department and petty theft from the Mountain View Police Department).

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

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Like this comment
Posted by huh?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by fairmeadow resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 24, 2016 at 12:33 pm

Is this the man who was seen jumping over a fence in Ramona Circle?

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Were local residents notified about this through the alert system? Were parents notified by PAUSD?

9 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Is this the "young skinny white man" that has been harassing young women around southern Palo Alto for the last couple of years (according to numerous Palo Alto police reports).

4 people like this
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 24, 2016 at 12:46 pm

In the Fairmeadow area, there were many fast driving police vehicles, speeding around the area. With so much police activity, surly there must be a better way to alert residents what is going on.

Additionally, there was someone seen jumping a fence on Ramona circle?

2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm

No. Parents of children at Greendell were not notified.

4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Yes, I was notified by both Fairmeadow and JLS schools.

2 people like this
Posted by Nope
a resident of Hoover School
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Nothing from Hoover

14 people like this
Posted by DJ
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:21 pm

To answer and clarify some earlier questions/comments, parents of PAUSD schools were notified after the incident was over, not as it was happening. I guess that's ok because the last thing the police or school would want is for parents to show up trying to pick up their kids while the incident is going on, but it still feels a little odd to not know anything until after the fact.

5 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Yes, Greendell parents were notified 20 minutes after I wrote that we weren't.

6 people like this
Posted by southerner
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:33 pm

School notified by email after the incident was over. For the hour prior, helicopters circled loudly for an hour. We assumed that some type of search was happening. It's hard not being able to know when it's a big deal or a just a little deal. Glad everyone is safe.

7 people like this
Posted by Grad
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm

That's a long time to be sealed up in a classroom. Any concerns about deteriorating indoor air quality or offgassing?

17 people like this
Posted by Kay
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm

The lockdown was sudden and was handled in the best interests of keeping students and staff safe. No idea if contacting parents/guardians was possible while in lockdown. Anyone arriving in a panic onto campuses looking for their kids would have been both in potential danger themselves, and locked out of all classrooms and offices/rooms.
it felt to be handled very well by PAPD and the affected school sites.

11 people like this
Posted by what the?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:16 pm

It is kind of traumatic for kids to go on lockdown. Unless this guy had a warrant outstanding for axe murder, this seems like major overkill.

26 people like this
Posted by jls student
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Contrary to what PAUSD says, the lockdown was NOT orderly.

I was in band class (at JLS) when the lockdown happened, and the PA just told the teachers to essentially close the doors, and turn the locks. We had no barricades to prevent the person from getting in at all, like we practiced, and the teachers weren't allowed to tell us what was happening.


The school had us go outside to change classes! Now, because we weren't told what the threat was then, so we were just very slow to go, we stopped and talked, etc.

Rumor got around (someone read their teachers official email notification) and it said that the police were chasing after some criminal guy! The school let us outside for without telling us that there was a criminal on the loose to change classes while in lockdown.

This system is a load of crap.

7 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:37 pm

A person who matches the description came to rang my door bell during school hours for solicitation near Terman and Gunn.

This is an on-going problem due to lack of police patrol in school zones during school hours. Police need to show presence in foot or bicycle during school hours in school zone. This will help the traffic for a calming effect during commute hours. It is a great PR to citizens esp. kids too.

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 4:18 pm

What seems silly to me about not telling parents is that most middle school students and even many elementary students have phones. Weren't they texting parents that they were on lockdown? Is it worse to hear from your child that they are on lockdown in their classroom or from the school first?

If it was me, I would rather hear from the school and perhaps an alert from the CANS system before I heard from my child. At least that way I could send something reassuring back rather than just a panicked reaction.

22 people like this
Posted by School volunteer
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm

I was in one of the schools (elementary) that was on lockdown. The children were not traumatized because the Principal only stated what kind of lockdown it was. Then teachers were instructed to go about their normal routine but the doors were shut and blinds/drapes were pulled closed. The teachers handled it calmly. Since this happened after recess and classes were already in session, it was not a problem. No one was allowed to go outside!!

All substitute teachers, part-time teachers, janitors and volunteers were either in a classroom or in the office the whole time.

Children practice different types of drills throughout the year and it was just one of the drills that they practiced being put to use.
Although the lockdown lasted more than 40 minutes the children were oblivious to what was going on outside. I was in a kindergarten classroom and the teachers handled it professionally. Children were given extra choice time that were low noise activities (reading, art, puzzles) and asked to keep the noise level to 1. After the lockdown was released, I was asked by some of the older students what happened but they went on with their normal activity.

As for parents being notified, since the suspect was apprehended around 11:45am, the Kindergarten parents would have started arriving around that time and there would not have been a way to notify them in advance.

I was told by one of the volunteers at JLS that got locked out of a classroom briefly but was able to get back inside. If what the JLS student said is accurate, the Principal and staff there need to review their procedures! They were endangering the lives of children. Especially since the suspect was seen in the "Circles" which are so close to JLS!!

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Thank you school volunteer for your input.

I think that since parents were about to arrive to pick up kindergartners it was imperative that they should have been told in advance. Imagine the chaos if the lockdown was going on at pickup time and parents started arriving and were not able to get access to their children.

I think that PAUSD should start sending texts, emails, phone alerts on both home phones and cell phones, to give some sort of heads up. This has to be done if parents are about to arrive for pickup.

We all have cell phones. A better system of getting accurate information out to parents while the situation is ongoing with instructions on how to proceed is essential in a situation like this, I would imagine.

8 people like this
Posted by Realist
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

"Any concerns about deteriorating indoor air quality or offgassing?"

Apparently officials were only concerned about the quality of life outdoors with a dangerous fugitive on the loose. You should take the school district to task about its priorities.

8 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2016 at 5:50 pm


"That's a long time to be sealed up in a classroom. Any concerns about deteriorating indoor air quality or offgassing?"

Hey, you probably suffer from far worse every time you get on a plane.

2 people like this
Posted by turning unto L.A.
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 8:15 pm

We're turning into L.A. with all of the traffic, smog and now search helicopters.

1 person likes this
Posted by South PA Dave
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2016 at 9:46 pm

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Poor Communication
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 11:15 pm

My child told me about the lockdown this evening, and I was shocked that PAUSD had not notified the parents of the schools affected.

It is a violation of my parental rights to not be notified that my child may be in danger. I don't care how much they worry about parents showing up and putting themselves in danger - that's my decision!

And the school was in lockdown but still had students leave classrooms to change classes?! My child reported the same thing and it is nonsensical. Lockdown means lockdown! Obviously JLS cannot be trusted with our children's welfare!

I am demanding answers from PAUSD and Sharon Ofeck as to why parents were not notified that their children were potentially in danger and why, given a code blue lockdown, the kids were sent out to change classes as usual.

This incident makes it clear that PAUSD cannot be trusted. Notify me and tell me what actions are being taken and why I don't need to worry, great. Tell me after the fact? FAIL!!

I will no longer allow my child to leave her cell phone in her locker per school policy, because the school cannot be trusted. I will demand that she keep it on her person in case of emergency.

10 people like this
Posted by Worst college town school district I've lived in
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:24 am

I agree with Poor Communication. It is a parent's right to be notified by the district of any potential danger IMMEDIATELY, not after the fact! Yet another failure for inept PAUSD. (CDCs investigators, take note...)

11 people like this
Posted by teela
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 8:20 am

My daughter went to use and that school has a wonderful email notification system for students and parents. It is immediate....police activity in progress..no students involved...avoid area.
When the situation is cleared...we all receive another text and oremail. Now we aren't LA but that is a brilliant system and they don't shove situations under the rug...but provide immediate information. Pausd and palo alto should put in such a system. Palo alto has armed situations at least once a week. This week the movie center on El camino.was robbed by armed gunman and a sex offender running around.

4 people like this
Posted by teela
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 8:23 am

Spell check...university of southern california......they have a wonderful alert system.......palo alto police and school system here seems to operating old school. ..don't tell them until it is over whereas other organizations alert right away....so people can stay clear and or take precautions if needed.

7 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 8:28 am

I can tell you unequivically that our district couldn't care less about air quality even when kids complain abour getting sick in classrooms over months, and they think "offgassing" is what parents are doing when they try to give the district a heads up about research relating environmental conditions and depression/suicide. Even when kids keep killing themselves despite all the other efforts to stop it.

I'm pretty sure an emergency situation in which a fleeing fugitive on the other side of town would not trigger any "alarms"...

Isn't JLS next to a park with lots of kids, including younger ones outside playing? What did the police do to alert those families? (I got nothing.)

9 people like this
Posted by Too much
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2016 at 8:42 am

Major overkill, he was not a killer on the run!
Glad to know Code Blue worked though

18 people like this
Posted by over parenting
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 25, 2016 at 8:46 am

Thanks PAPD for the Twitter/Facebook updates and to JLS for handling the situation in a professional manner. The ~ 8-13 kids we saw after school reported receiving clear instructions, feeling safe, knowing there was a helicopter watching - and happy that the person was caught.

CDC now has more data about Palo Alto parents and their reactions during stressful situations.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 9:09 am

I tend to agree that this was not handled well.

Last time a situation happened in Palo Alto it was Challenger School.

Fortunately both these situations ended happily for the schools and the residents. But as learning procedures and safety check, I would class this as a fail. I hope PAUSD learns from this.

Informing parents before they hear it from kids on their phones, or seeing helicopters or swat teams surrounding a school must be the right thing to do. I have signed up for texts as first priority on all my school forms and yet to have received a text. I personally only check email once a day. I know others would view their priorities differently. Why do they ask us how we want to be contacted and then ignore our wishes?

Obviously none of us wish for a serious situation to occur in one of our schools, private or public, but if one happens, I strongly suggest that PAPD, the City, and PAUSD, do a better job of notifying parents. BTW, I think PAPD do a great job of using Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor, etc. to alert the public and they do not have access to parents information, so perhaps they can be taken out of the mix on this one.

22 people like this
Posted by Greendell and Fairmeadow parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

We have kids at both Greendell and Fairmeadow and we felt both schools handled the situation perfectly and professionally. Sending urgent text messages or emails to every parent would have created a horribly chaotic situation of overly protective helicopter parents rushing to school to whisk their kids away. We have complete confidence in both schools to take care of our kids in these situations, which they practice routinely, and that's exactly what they did.

11 people like this
Posted by I Fought The Law
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 25, 2016 at 10:54 am

Is that Zoolander?

23 people like this
Posted by JLS Parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

@ jls student - I totally agree with you. What you described is exactly what my student jls described.

The students were on a Code Blue lock down, but then let out of the classrooms to change classes! What??? My child said all they were told was to "change classes quickly". They went from the first classroom on "lockdown", changed classes (which requires going outside from one class to another), then went back into "lockdown" in the second class before lunch. On what planet does lock down include letting 1,000 kids leave their classrooms, change classes outside, then lock the door in the next class again? It's nonsensical. Even if there was no real immediate danger, and my child said it was no big deal, the fact is there was a Code Blue. You're either in lockdown or you're not! What crazy district policy lets kids change classes in the middle of a lockdown? Yes, we received an email from the Principal, but considering I get a text, home phone call, cell phone call and email when my child misses PE in high school (!) I would think the same level of communication would be appropriate for a Code "anything" at the school.

8 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:19 pm

There are different kinds of lockdowns. For the schools that are a substantial distance from the "manhunt", this seemed more like a "shelter in place" than a lockdown.

Lockdown: Defined as an internal threat and/or immediate threat.

Shelter In Place: Defined as a safety precaution taken for possible external threat that is not an immediate or internal threat. No one IN or OUT without administrator approval.

This guy was on a bicycle that he left behind in the chase, so his ability to get far was limited.

It does seem odd that there was notification to Greenmeadow and Fairmeadow residents, but I don't see the reason to inform parents if there is no immediate threat and the school is erring on the side of caution, especially when there is a short sheltering period.

3 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:33 pm

The article says it was a "lockdown" - take your issues up with the reporter if you think it was wrong. Your revision is not what the students reported.

@over parenting,
How exactly do you get from a concern about learning from a safety situation implemented badly relative to drills to over parenting? It seems to me you are the one who has just shown the ugly side, to blame and villify families for anything and everything. Sheesh.

@jls student,
Thank you for reporting what you observed and for sharing your concerns with the community. When bad things hapoen, no one has the knowledge and hindsight, it is only possibke to follow the safety procedures. And you are finding, I think, that humans have trouble erring on the side of safety. You are helping the community by speaking up. I hope the administration has the professionalism to use that feedback to help our schools.

8 people like this
Posted by Anyone
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:52 pm

actually know what a code blue lockdown means? Thought it meant no one in or out of the schools, not the classrooms.

My kids didnt blink an eye over the lockdown. While I appreciate a notification, I dont think it needs to go out during the situation. Focus on managing the campus.

Though I expect nothing would scare an intruder more than a mob over overbearing Palo Alto parents descending on our schools.

7 people like this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Many thanks to the house cleaner who called the police and reported the suspicious character. We all need to be observant and do the same - look out for one another and call the police when we see something suspicious...

And yes, he does look a bit like Zoolander!

12 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm

As a parent in this district who has had to deal with a level of unprofessionalism and kneejerk, calcalating defensiveness by administrators worse than anything I have seen anywhere in industry and that has resulted in harm to children I know, I take issue with your insulting snark against parents.

Before the suicides and the district people feeling they had to point fingers at families rather than taking a harder look at what they could do, the word in parenting communities was that Palo Alto was a haven for families who didn't want the pressure of some of the surrounding communities and their higher levels of affluenza. I have heard plenty of complaints from friends about pressure to wear the right things and snobbishness in other nearby high schools but not Palo Alto, be ause families tended to be more grounded. I have witnessed parents giving sacrificially of their time and money in ways I have never witnessed anywhere, in order to support teachers. Yet they face this abuse over and over again because district administration does not walk the walk and learn from its mistakes. They have to blame parents at every chance. Parents are probably paying salaries of people making these attacks (Stanford above spoke with 8-13 kids afterwards - hmmm.) My experience is that administrators often ask kids questions to get the answers they want. Stanford exemplified the party line: Don't directly address or solve any problem reported, minimize or ridicule the report or ignore the reporter, make a claim that everything is great and make up support as needed, then somehow never fail to attack and blame parents. And don't forget to cash your salary check that is probably more than Californians pay the governor (for your part-year's work) all the while mumbling against those horrible Palo Alto parents.

I have lived in poor school districts that are more like the rest of America, and I'll bet you've never had to deal with really bad parents where you worried about your own physical safety half the time. You get away with attacking Palo Alto parents precisely because they are so eager to be compliant. No public school district is going to be perfect, but this gets pretty close and if you can't handle even that, get out of education, it's not for you. Children are part of families, and families are important support. Those kids could be just fine without 90% of PAUSD administrators and even teachers, but not without their families.

I do think if there is a takeaway from this, it's how difficult it us to look at an situation honestly and try to solve any problems, amid all the handwaving demonizing of parents. This is a thread about a safety situation with legitimate concerns and somehow it has aggressively devolved into an attack on parents. AGAIN. I am sick of it.

When things go wrong because people don't know how serious things are and don't follow safety pricedures - think of the hundreds if lives lost in the 2nd Workd Trade Center tower because they were told not to worry and go back to work, or the young man returned by police to killer Jeffrey Daumer who was immediately murdered, but we could go on for hours - it is not unreadonable in hindsight to try to use the exercise of a drill like this to improve procedures. It IS unreasonable for you to use it as another opportunity to turn local parents into a punching bag again.

The police knew the outstanding warrants of this criminal and notified schools to lockdown. The schools should have followed safety procedures. It undermines the ability to keep the kids safe the next time when they don't. A student expressed legitimate concerns, as did a parent of another student, and the concerns deserve honest reflection. You may disagree about the issue, but you are exercising the height of irresponsibility to try to divert a discussion about safety by turning it into another way to demonize parents and avoid improving things.

Thank you @teela, for pointing out that there are better systems out there. Such a system would also have helped the many families in the large adjacent parks with their kids who could have sheltered in the library had it been a more serious emergency and necessary.

1 person likes this
Posted by Another Candidate?
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 27, 2016 at 4:58 am

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by CoachFromAnotherTown
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 8, 2016 at 11:51 am

CoachFromAnotherTown is a registered user.

Contrary to what jls-student says about the lock-down NOT being orderly, how do we really know what the lock-down was really like?

jls-student - was one point of view and I am sure that jls-student was not everywhere at once.

1 person likes this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Read the thread. The student's report was validated by others, and certainly rang more true than "I asked approximately 8 to 13 students and they all said they felt safe." Hmmm. (Felt safe even though they had to change classes with no information? Is that why the poster asked? Why did that poster talk with approximately 8-13 kids about it anyway? Why did the poster hear that particular thing coming out if all of their mouths? Doesn't sound like what kids I know would volunteer after school. And why couldn't the poster remember within a margin of that many kids how many they spoke with?)

JLS student, I'm sorry you are faced with such ugliness, but you may as well learn now. In life, when people don't like what you have to say, instead of dealing with the truth, even if it has to do with safety, the may attack you instead. It is very par for the course with district administratos in fact. I'm sorry they are setting such a bad example for students, in particular that they do not know how to take responsibility for or to solve mistakes. [Portion removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Gods son
a resident of Mountain View
on May 22, 2016 at 12:45 am

[Post removed.]

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