Woman attacked in Homer Avenue tunnel, assailant at large

Daily Post Staff Writer
The 77-year-old owner of a downtown Palo Alto store, who was on her way to work, was attacked by a man in the Homer Avenue underpass, but she managed to run away.

The woman, in an interview with the Post yesterday, said that she no longer fights traffic on weekdays, opting instead to take VTA’s 522 bus from Hollenbeck Avenue in Sunnyvale.

The Palo Alto Transit Center bus depot has been closed since Aug. 7 for a sidewalk and curb repair project on University Circle. Because the bus stop has been relocated to Quarry Road until Sept. 21, the woman said she has been using the underpass connecting Alma Street to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation under the Caltrain tracks.

Normally, the underpass is “very clean and nice,” she said, and usually more populated when she walks to work around 8 a.m. But on Tuesday morning, she was alone when the man shoved her from behind with one of two heavy bags he was carrying.

Hit in the face

When she turned around, the man hit her in the face and swore at her, leaving a bruise that she covered with makeup yesterday.
The woman said she was dizzy, but kept her wits about her and ran to the other end of the tunnel. When she emerged, the traffic light turned green and she ran across the street to Palo Alto Bimmer, where a friend’s son ran two blocks over to Hamilton Avenue to help her look for her assailant, who was nowhere to be found.

She shuddered to think what would have happened if she had been walking in the middle of the tunnel, without the tunnel wall to help her keep from being pushed to the ground.

The woman didn’t go to the doctor, but took Tylenol for the pain and said the inside of her lip was cut from being hit in the face.
Yesterday, a man agreed to escort the woman through the underpass for extra safety, she said.

No prosecution

Police Sgt. Craig Lee said the woman told police about the attack and suggested they step up security in the underpass, but that she declined to prosecute.

When asked if police were searching for the suspect, Lee said, “We can look, but there isn’t much to go on.”

The woman described the man as short with a slight build. He appeared to be in his 40s and looked Asian, possibly Filipino, she said.

The underpass was built in 2004. Last year, an unshaven man with body odor groped a 15-year-old girl in the underpass as she walked through it one afternoon.