News Digest | November 12, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 12, 2021

News Digest

Man allegedly threatens to shoot police

A man led Palo Alto police on a harrowing foot chase and standoff after they tried to arrest him for smashing car windows at Stanford Shopping Center on Nov. 5. He ran across El Camino Real to a hotel balcony in Menlo Park, repeatedly threatened to shoot officers, police said.

Initially reported as a disturbance, the incident rapidly escalated to involve a crisis negotiator and police taking cover, according to a press release. At around 1:45 p.m., Stanford Shopping Center security personnel called police dispatchers regarding the man, who allegedly yelled at patrons, threatened passersby and spat on store windows at the mall at 180 El Camino Real.

Shopping center security told police they wanted to place him under a private person's arrest if he didn't leave the property.

The man then ran into the parking lot and allegedly swung a metal water bottle and shattered the rear windows of two unoccupied vehicles.

Police chased him to an outdoor area of the Stanford Park Hotel at 100 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, where he placed his hand into his jacket pocket and threatened multiple times to shoot and kill the officers before climbing up to a second-floor balcony.

Police fired pepperball rounds at a wall near him followed by a less-lethal projectile weapon that struck him in the hip area.

The man eventually surrendered. Police found he did not have any weapons in his possession.

He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of felony vandalism, misdemeanor obstructing a business establishment and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

— Sue Dremann

Getreu receives life sentence for 1974 murder

Calling the string of strangulation murders and sexual assaults by John Arthur Getreu "evil and despicable crimes," San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles sentenced the 77-year-old man to life in prison and a $5,000 fine on Friday for killing Janet Ann Taylor 47 years ago.

"Words cannot begin to express my sorrow in this case," Foiles said.

A jury convicted Hayward resident Getreu of first-degree murder and infliction of great bodily injury on Sept. 14 after a scant hour of deliberation. His trial lasted 18 days. He murdered Taylor, 21, on March 24, 1974, while she was hitchhiking home after visiting a friend. Her body was found in a ditch on Sand Hill Road near Manzanita Way. The La Honda woman had been strangled, beaten and sexually assaulted.

Witnesses, including his family, a former wife, the family of another murder victim and another victim who survived an assault by Getreu provided testimony during his trial.

On Feb. 16, 1973, Leslie Marie Perlov, also 21, was found strangled in a remote area near what is now the Stanford Dish hiking trail, which isn't far from where Taylor's body was found 13 months later. Getreu has been charged with, but not yet tried for, Perlov's murder.

It was nearly 50 years until modern DNA testing linked him to the Taylor and Perlov murders.

Getreu will appear in Santa Clara County Superior Court for a trial-setting conference for Perlov's murder on Jan. 19.

— Sue Dremann

Court unlikely restore binding arbitration for public safety workers

More than a decade after Palo Alto voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that removed binding arbitration for public safety workers from the city charter, the legal battle between the city and its primary firefighters union continues to wind its way through the court system.

But despite an earlier determination that the city had failed to negotiate with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1319, before placing the measure on the 2011 ballot, the decision seems unlikely to be reversed. That much was made clear in a September preliminary decision from Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Cynthia C. Lie, who agreed with the union's assertion that the city unlawfully exercised its authority in placing the measure on the ballot but who declined the union's request that the measure be invalidated.

Barring a change of course, the preliminary ruling represents a nominal victory but a practical defeat for the union, which prevailed in its arguments that the city acted illegally but which failed to achieve its overarching goal of reinstating binding arbitration — a provision that had been in the city charter since 1978 before the council asked voters to remove it. Lie concluded that the union is the prevailing party in the suit and ordered the city to negotiate with its public safety unions about a possible restoration of the binding arbitration provision. Once that happens, the city is required to consult "in good faith" with all relevant unions that accept the city's invitation to do so.

— Gennady Sheyner


Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 8, 2021 at 6:06 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

Thank you for not releasing his name. I see you said "police said x" at least once during the article, which is helpful. However, can you make it more readily apparent to us readers that you are using the police press release as your sole source? Perhaps saying "police said x" more often or having some kind of disclaimer in the beginning?

Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 8, 2021 at 9:04 pm

TimR is a registered user.

What where they going to do if they were right, and he did try to use an Uber as a getaway car? Just let him get into the car, and possibly attack the driver? That part doesn't sound like it was handled properly.

Posted by Jim Lange
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 9, 2021 at 9:24 am

Jim Lange is a registered user.

Sounds like another mental-illness case...smashing car windows while supposedly waiting for a ride and during the interim, spitting at store windows & yelling at shoppers?

The suspect was fortunate that the PAPD didn't gun him down after he threatened them with an undisclosed firearm.

Posted by Bob M.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 9, 2021 at 11:03 am

Bob M. is a registered user.

You do a disservice to our community by not publishing names of those arrested unless the DA decides to prosecute them. An arrest is a fact. Report it—all of it, including the identity of the arrestee. The decision to prosecute is a separate incident which you should report accordingly. Just as an arrest doesn’t prove guilt, a lack of prosecution doesn’t confirm innocence, nor does it mean that a crime didn’t occur. It may mean only that the DA chooses to expend limited time, personnel, and resources on other cases. The Weekly seems to believe that its readers can’t understand such distinctions, so it has to help them by concealing certain facts. That’s not an attractive attitude in a news organization.