News Digest | May 27, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 27, 2022

News Digest

Driver killed in high-speed crash that severed car in half

A car going at a high speed crashed and split into two pieces on University Avenue in East Palo Alto on Monday night, according to witnesses and police. The driver died at the scene.

Witnesses said the driver was heading west on University Avenue and had just passed the Bay Road intersection at approximately 8 p.m. when he attempted to swerve around another car and struck the median curb and spun around, striking a tree.

The impact caused the car to split in half. The front portion landed on its side against a tree in the median while the rear portion of the car sheared off into the eastbound lane. Shattered glass and car parts were scattered across the roadway and into the driveway of a nearby strip mall where the PAL Market is located in the 2300 block of University Avenue.

East Palo Alto police interim Chief Jeff Liu said on Tuesday the incident was captured on surveillance video. There was no evidence of street racing.

The San Mateo County Coroner's Office on Tuesday identified the driver as Jesus Alejandro Belmonte Castro Jr., 29, of East Palo Alto.

Multiple Menlo Park Fire Protection District units and police responded to the scene. East Palo Alto police closed off University Avenue in both directions between Runnymede Street and Bay Road until after midnight.

— Sue Dremann

Residents want surveillance cameras after park shooting

When volleys of gunfire erupted at Jack Farrell Park in East Palo Alto on May 17, the shootout shattered a balmy evening of games and sports for an estimated 60 people who had been enjoying a normal weekday.

At a specially convened City Council meeting on May 19, community members decried the violence caused by two pairs of shooters who fired 33 bullets at each other in the crowded park. Both residents and city staff said it is time to add surveillance cameras to the Fordham Street community space.

The 6 p.m. shootout killed one man, Ralph Fields Jr., and injured three others. Video taken by a child on her cell phone, which has since gone viral online, captured her trauma as she ran and dozens of gunshots cracked nearby.

Interim Police Chief Jeff Liu, Mayor Ruben Abrica and faith leaders quickly convened a press conference the day after the incident to address the shooting, which they said has traumatized many residents in the community. Liu said his department has already increased patrols with the help of the Menlo Park Police Department.

Interim City Manager Patrick Heisinger said the city is in the middle of developing its parks master plan, which could include security measures at the parks.

"An idea about security at parks and cameras has always been, I would say, pleasantly debated at these meetings. But just from the administration's perspective, I do — we do — think it's time we need to really look into that," Heisinger said.

On Tuesday, East Palo Alto police arrested two people on outstanding warrants in connection to the May 17 shootout and asked for the community's help to locate the person who shot and killed Fields.

— Sue Dremann

Bill to limit police encryption scores another victory

State Sen. Josh Becker's proposal to require police departments to find alternatives to radio encryption took another major step forward on May 19 when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to advance the bill.

The committee's 5-2 vote means that Senate Bill 1000 will now advance for a full vote by the state Senate. The bill would still need to clear the state Assembly and get the governor's signature before it becomes law.

Becker's bill addresses a recent trend by police departments throughout California, including in Palo Alto, to encrypt their radio communications, a practice that removed the historic ability of journalists and members of the general public to monitor police activities through a police scanner.

SB 1000 would require agencies to come up with policies that would open up communications while ensuring that personal identifiable information such as Social Security numbers and criminal records remains protected. Some agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, already have such policies in place.

The bill that advanced out of committee on Thursday has a Jan. 1, 2024, deadline for compliance.

— Gennady Sheyner


Posted by Sasha Monroe
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 21, 2022 at 7:29 am

Sasha Monroe is a registered user.

In addition to surveillance cameras, the East Palo Alto Police Department needs to take further efforts towards stemming the gang-related violence in our community.

A police-sponsored outreach program encouraging a truce among gangs would be a step in the right direction as would having embedded undercover detectives infiltrating the gangs to provide intelligence gathering and pre-emptive measures.

Or enlist the assistance of 'moles' who are compensated by the city.

These random acts of violence are endangering the residents of East Palo Alto, their children, and current real estate prices.

Posted by Allison Cooper
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2022 at 11:53 am

Allison Cooper is a registered user.

Surveillance cameras are not an unreasonable request on the part of EPA residents.

The question is where to place these monitors as it will require many of them.

Posted by Ryan Kilpatrick
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2022 at 12:35 pm

Ryan Kilpatrick is a registered user.

EPA residents should also be encouraged to record any illegal activities on their cellphones & to submit them to the EPA police for review.

Posted by We Are The People
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 23, 2022 at 11:57 am

We Are The People is a registered user.

Its a shame that each and every time, that there is a "Incident" that occurs in a 2.5 miles, that it can make "Nationwide" News?
Its Baffling. Its disgusting. Its worrying? For decades it's been introduced about installing "Surveillance Cameras". But Up pop The "Ego" players. The Pleasers. The Unsurly types. The Know Nothings. Most of These People, all they want, is in being "Commanders". To feel as though they are in Control. But NEVER want a reasonable implementation. (unless they think of it first).
East Palo Alto, is in need of REAL Good Actions for the City?
Confusion throws East Palo Alto Off. Some of the statements that have been made from the Individuals in the News Article are from those that DON'T actually know how to "run" a City? MOST operate off of Instinct & Emotions. Oblivious of Ideas"? All they know is that they have a "mouth" and I want to open it? Simply because I'll be on the most Talked about SIDE. This side just happens to be on tragedy. Just because?
Pastor Bains made the MOST intelligent remark. They Broke the Street CODE! But times have changed. The Codes ONLY work, if they are believed in by Perpetrators. You have to have, some sense of "Morals" & Common Sense?
Yes. Gunfire is "Scary", but if you "Yell, Holler & Scream" and there's a simple Solution at hand, as to installing "Monitored Cameras"? What else do you think is going to happen? There have been many other Citizens who are willing to give Their Rights up, for (less) Privacy. For having "Cameras" situated around the City. After all it's ONLY 2.5 miles? When the idea came up in the past. A lot of you took it to the Mountaintop against Cameras.
( just because you could) open your Mouths and yell about privacy (something you know little about) and half of you, all you do is Go to Work and back Home & Sleep! In Europe they have Cameras all around.
What Do You Actually have to HIDE? Having Cameras aren't just for You. Its for Those Children that You claim to Love and Care about.

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