News - March 12, 2008

Gang of youths attacks pedestrians in Menlo Park

by David Boyce

A gang of six young men and boys are in police custody in connection with two attacks on pedestrians and a robbery at the Safeway store on El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

One victim, a 60-year-old Menlo Park man who was walking along O'Brien Drive east of the Bayshore Freeway about 6 a.m. on Feb. 24, was hospitalized with a blood clot on his brain and fractures to his jaw, nose and eye socket, according to San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe and Sgt. Jim Simpson of the Menlo Park Police Department.

The second attack occurred about 50 minutes later near the intersection of Newbridge Street and Carlton Avenue in the Belle Haven neighborhood. A 37-year-old man suffered bruises from being punched and kicked, Sgt. Simpson said.

Both victims were taken to Stanford Hospital and were expected to recover, Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti told the Almanac.

The two were robbed of their cell phones, Sgt. Simpson said. To protect their safety, police are not releasing their names.

The District Attorney's Office did release the names of four suspects in the case: John Persius Stanley Mahe, 17, Malakai Mataele, 18, and Holomesi Tuineau, 19, all of East Palo Alto, and Sipukako Tony Vailala. The names of the younger suspects are being withheld. The 17-year-old has been charged as an adult, Ms. Guidotti said.

In addition to robbery, the charges include assault and causing great bodily injury, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

The suspects are being held on $200,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in San Mateo County Superior Court.

The two attacks followed a 5:40 a.m. robbery on the same day (Feb. 24) at the new Safeway store at 525 El Camino Real, where thieves tangled with a security guard, Sgt. Simpson said. Whiskey and a six-pack of beer were taken.

Police connected the three incidents after an investigation over the next several days turned up "significant evidence" and arrests were made, Sgt. Simpson said.


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