Palo Alto police investigate hate crime after stabbing in parking garage

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) - Palo Alto Police say a Latino teen says he was stabbed with a screwdriver in a city parking garage.

Police say they're looking for three suspects and are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

The 19-year-old victim says he was walking to his car at the City Parking Garage at the corner of Bryant and Lytton Avenue about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday July 15th.

He says the two suspects and a third man, all described as thin, white males in their mid-twenties, were loitering nearby.

The victim told police the men began making disparaging comments about his Latino ethnicity.

"Some of the comments that they made were similar to 'What are you doing here? You don't belong here."

The victim responded, “I was born here just like you," said Agent Marco Estrada, the Palo Alto Police spokesman.

Police say the victim tried to walk past the men to his car parked on the first floor.

"As he was getting ready to get into his car, one of the individuals jumped on his back," said Estrada.

Police say the clean-shaven man was wearing a black t-shirt and peach-colored shorts.

They say the other man with the beard pulled out a flathead screwdriver and stabbed the teen in the right thigh.

The men ran off. The victim drove himself to the hospital. Police say they are investigating this as a hate crime.

"Wow. I need to take care right now," said Edgar Dominguez of Menlo Park, who often parks in the garage adjacent to his workplace.

Parking lot patrons said they couldn't believe a hate crime would happen there.

"Surprising. I would've never think this thing to happen in Palo Alto," said Arindam Bhattacharya of Fremont.

"I never heard nothing bad happen over here, so for now, I have to be careful now. Now, I'm going to be scared, you know," said Ulises Ramirez of San Jose.

"I am shocked. Very surprised, it's not the thing you ever think happens in a town of this educational level and general courtesy," said another woman who says she often parks in the lot.

Some immigrant rights advocates say there has been concern that recent comments about Mexican immigrants by Donald Trump and others might fuel racial animosity.

Police just hope witnesses will step forward to help identify the men in the sketch.

"So I'm hoping this is a one-off offense and not something that becomes a pattern though," said Bhattacharya.

Police say the victim was treated and released for the puncture wound to his thigh.

Investigators hope to hear from anyone who recognizes the two suspects.