EAST PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — Two robberies occurred Thursday in East Palo Alto on a recently-opened footbridge that allows pedestrians to cross over Highway 101, according to the East Palo Alto police department.
“We suspect it’s probably the same group,” said Commander Jeff Liu during a news conference. “We’re going to be keeping an eye on the bridge.”
The first robbery victim was walking westbound on the bridge around 8 p.m. when he was approached by a group of about six teenage boys.
One of the teens demanded his cellphone and backpack before the group attacked him, Liu said.
The victim was hospitalized with moderate injuries.
Just a short time later after police had canvassed the area looking for the suspects, at 9:29 p.m., another man was walking eastbound along on the bridge when he was surrounded by a group of six to eight teens who asked him what he had in his pockets.
When the victim pulled out a pocketknife to protect himself, the group grabbed nearby bricks and started throwing them at him, said Liu.
The young men fled westbound over the pedestrian bridge, according to police.
Ben Congleton, who lives in East Palo Alto, said he used the bridge the day it opened up on May 18.
“The other option is a little pedestrian bridge over there next to an off ramp, so you have cars just flying by, and this bridge is a much safer,” Congleton said.
But with the news of the robberies, he’s learned the bridge may not be as safe as he once thought.
“I’m just sad, disappointed,” he said.
The pedestrian crossing opened with the purpose of connecting two neighborhoods separated by Highway 101.
At the time, East Palo Alto mayor Lisa Gautheir said, “This overpass brings us together physically and is symbolic of joining and sharing resources.” “Robbing people, beating them up is not the way,” Liu said.
Police found no surveillance camera footage in the area to help identify suspects and asked anyone with information about either robbery to contact the East Palo Alto police department’s anonymous tip line at (650) 409-6792.
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