Stratford School Palo Alto has secured a temporary restraining order against a man accused of shooting a student with a BB gun last month.
Stratford Head of School Neena Bhave filed the request for a restraining order on Sept. 23, according to court records. The order lasts until Dec. 7, when a hearing is scheduled in the case.
Bhave sought the restraining order against a 62-year-old man who lives near Stratford School and whom police arrested on Sept. 3 for allegedly shooting an air rifle at a student playing on an athletic field at the campus. The student was struck in the back with a BB and suffered minor injuries, but didn't require medical attention.
The neighbor is currently facing criminal charges in the case and is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 5. The two charges are: assault with a deadly weapon and causing or permitting a child to suffer or inflicting pain or suffering on a child, according to Cynthia Sumida, public information officer for the Santa clara County District Attorney's Office.
"We can confirm that we have secured a restraining order against the individual charged with firing his BB AirRifle into our school grounds out of an abundance of caution and care for the safety of our school community," according to a statement from the school. "In consideration for any ongoing criminal investigations, as well as out of concern for the security and privacy of our students and staff, we will not be providing further comment on this situation."
Stratford School is a private school serving preschool through eighth grade students and is located at 870 N. California Ave.
The temporary restraining order requires the man to stay at least 150 yards away from Bhave, as well as her workplace. It does not cover students, teachers or school staff, but explicitly bans him from entering or remaining on Stratford School's property on North California Avenue.
When the neighbor is in his home, which is directly behind the school, he is only required to stay 10 feet away from Bhave.
In her application for a restraining order, Bhave said that school staff have been harassed by the man since at least 2020, adding that he has "repeatedly harassed the school by screaming at students and staff, whether in person or over the phone, making complaints about noise."
She also attached the Palo Alto Police Department's report about the case in the request for a restraining order. According to a written synopsis of the case by one of the responding officers, the suspect shot the BB from his backyard at a student who was playing during lunch break on Sept. 3. The student who was shot reported seeing a "face" in the ivy that lines the top of one of the school fences, according to the officer.
The shot left a welt and caused pain, but no medical attention was needed, the officer wrote. The school was placed on a lockdown, which was lifted at about 2 p.m.
When officers arrived at the man's house, they determined that he likely stood on the base of a redwood tree in the backyard to gain a vantage point to shoot the student. After searching the house for a weapon, the police officers ultimately found a loaded air rifle in the attic, according to the officer's report.
Once police arrested the man and brought him to the police station, he confessed to shooting the student, but claimed to have been aiming at a crow and missing, the police officer said.
According to the report, prior incidents involving the man had been reported to the department, including one where he threatened to shoot a school custodian for making noise with music and his dog barking. The school's name is redacted in the copy of the police report attached to the request for a restraining order.
Palo Alto police did not respond to a request for an update on the criminal case against the man before this news organization's deadline.