A man who reportedly had a gun at Stanford Shopping Center was arrested by Palo Alto police in connection with a robbery on Saturday, police said in a press release on Thursday.
At about 6:40 p.m., officers responded to a call by security personnel at the shopping center, located at 180 El Camino Real, where they were attempting to keep a 39-year-old man who appeared to be armed under observation.
Police located the man, who was still holding what looked like a semi-automatic handgun. He quickly complied with commands to drop the weapon and police took him safely into custody, according to the release.
The weapon was a realistic-looking replica handgun. Officers found a second replica gun, still in its original packaging, in the man's belongings, police said. A credit card, prescription medication and personal documents belonging to others were also found in his possession.
The man had entered the Timberland store and attempted to pay for $600 in merchandise with a credit card. After the transaction was declined multiple times, the man became increasingly disruptive to the point that an employee called security personnel for assistance, police said. He allegedly removed the replica handgun from his waistband, brandished it at employees and left the store with the merchandise without paying, police said.
As he left, he allegedly yelled back inside to the employees that he would shoot them in their heads. The three employees inside the store at the time — a man in his 30s, and a man and a woman both in their late teens — feared for their lives, police said. Security personnel responding to the call for help observed the man brandish the handgun at the employees and threaten to shoot them.
An investigation found that the man had tried to purchase the two replica handguns with a credit card earlier in the day at Big 5 Sporting Goods, located at 700 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. When the transaction was declined multiple times, he allegedly stole the replica handguns and fled, the release states. The Menlo Park Police Department investigated the theft as shoplifting.
Police booked the man, who has no permanent address, into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for robbery and criminal threats, both felonies, and for possession of stolen property and possession of medication without a prescription, which are misdemeanors.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.
Editor's note: The Weekly's policy is to withhold the names of those arrested for most crimes until the District Attorney has determined there is sufficient evidence to file charges in the case. See our guidelines here.