PALO ALTO – Multiple police agencies in the Bay Area worked together Tuesday night to locate and safely arrest three suspects who committed two armed robberies that occurred within 25 minutes in Palo Alto, and then a third armed robbery in Milpitas later in the evening. No one was physically injured. Police booked all three suspects into jail for multiple felony counts.
On Monday, April 17, 2023, at about 6:35 p.m., the Palo Alto 24-hour dispatch center received a call of an armed robbery that had just occurred in the 1100 block of Trinity Lane where the suspects had fled in a white sport utility vehicle. The investigation revealed that a family of four (with the parents in their thirties, and the children under ten years of age) had just returned home and pulled into their garage. As they were getting out of their car, they were approached by two suspects who demanded their phones and the woman’s purse. The suspects had shirts pulled up to partially obscure their faces. One suspect pointed a gun at the male victim and threatened to kill him if they did not comply. The suspects then took the phones from both adult victims and ran to a waiting getaway car driven by a third suspect. They did not take the female victim’s purse.
While officers were beginning to investigate that crime, the Palo Alto dispatch center received a call from a resident in the 800 block of Marshall Drive at 6:57 p.m. reporting that she had just been robbed of her cell phone at gunpoint by similarly described suspects. That victim, a woman in her forties, said that she returned home and noticed a white SUV parked in front of her house. As she got out of her car, she was approached by two suspects wearing ski masks, one of whom was armed with a handgun. They demanded her phone. She complied, and she last saw their vehicle headed towards Moreno Avenue.
The victims described the suspects as two Black males in their twenties. They were wearing ski masks. The victims said a third Black male was driving their vehicle, which victims described as a white sports utility vehicle, possibly a Kia. The victims described the handgun wielded by one suspect in each case as being black and silver in color. No victims sustained physical injuries.
Officers and public safety dispatchers distributed information about the crimes to regional law enforcement agency partners in an effort to locate the suspects. Through investigative leads, officers were able to determine that the suspects were driving a white 2020 Kia Sportage that had been reported stolen out of Oakland on the morning of April 17.
At about 9:14 p.m., officers from the San Francisco Police Department located the suspect vehicle, conducted an enforcement stop at 7th Street and Stevenson Street in San Francisco, and detained the four occupants without incident. Officers from the Palo Alto Police Department responded to the scene of the stop. They were able to recover the victims’ stolen property from the vehicle, and also located a blank pistol. Officers also found multiple other cell phones in the suspect vehicle and believe that it is possible those were stolen as well. The investigation into the ownership of those phones is ongoing.
Officers were also able to determine that the same suspects were responsible for another armed robbery that had occurred last night after the first two in Palo Alto; personnel from the Milpitas Police Department assisted with the ensuing investigation. For information on that robbery, contact the Milpitas Police Department.
Officers booked each of the three adult suspects (18-year-old Siahola J’lan Tupouata, 21-year-old Tavita Lauti Fifita, and 19-year-old Curtis Eddie Charles Freeman, all of Oakland) into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for several felony charges as a result of their involvement in the two Palo Alto robberies and the single Milpitas robbery: three counts of robbery, one count of residential burglary (for entering the victim’s garage to commit the first robbery), one count of possession of a stolen vehicle, one count of possession of stolen property (for being in possession of the items stolen from the victims), and one count of conspiracy. Police believe Freeman was the driver of the vehicle. Police also booked suspect Tupouata for one count of assault with a deadly weapon (for pointing the firearm at the male victim in the first robbery). Booking photos of each of these three suspects are available above.
Additionally, police determined that the fourth subject who had been in the vehicle at the time of the stop, a 16-year-old male from Oakland, had an outstanding probation violation warrant out of Alameda County. Police transported him to the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall pursuant to that warrant. Detectives are still investigating to see if he may have been connected to either Palo Alto robbery.