PALO ALTO, Calif. (KRON) — Two suspected auto burglars were arrested after driving a vehicle into multiple police cars, according to a statement from the Palo Alto Police Department.
On Thursday, Aug. 25, just after 6:30 p.m., dispatch received a call from an alert witness who reported suspicious behavior in City Parking Lot “H” at 530 Cowper Street. The witness stated that a black Audi A-8 sedan was circling the lot and one of it’s occupants would get out of the car and peer into vehicles. Police believe this behavior is consistent with auto burglars.
The witness gave license plate information to dispatchers, but the plate did not match the Audi. Officers responded to the area, surrounded the parking lot and trapped the suspect vehicle with its two occupants. As an officer tried to stop the Audi, the car accelerated and drove at the occupied patrol car, striking it twice, according to police.
The Audi then reportedly collided with a second occupied patrol car, and the impact from the collision caused the suspect vehicle to strike three other vehicles parked in the lot. The Audi continued driving and collided with two more parked cars before coming to a stop, according to police. Police detained both suspects without incident.
Police found two loaded firearms inside of the Audi. The first firearm was a 9mm Glock handgun that had been modified illegally to become a fully-automatic weapon and was equipped with a fully-loaded, 30-round magazine. The second firearm was a 9mm Glock semi-automatic handgun equipped with a fully-loaded, 17-round magazine.
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Police also found items that had reportedly been stolen from other vehicles nearby that afternoon or evening. In each of the cases, windows had been smashed out of parked cars and bags containing items including laptop computers and other personal property were stolen from inside, according to police.
The license plate police found on the Audi was registered to a Toyota in Pacifica. The car nor the license plate had been reported stolen to police. The 2013 Audi had a registration that had been transferred to an auto dealership out of Oakley, and had not yet been registered to a new owner.
Police booked two suspects, Tommy Walter Miller, 25, of South San Francisco and Nino Joseph Fiapoto, 25, of San Francisco into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for various charges. Both suspects were booked for three counts of felony auto burglary, felony conspiracy, and felony carrying a loaded firearm with the intent to commit a felony. The two were also charged with misdemeanor possession of a large-capacity magazine and misdemeanor carrying a concealed firearm.
The driver, Miller, was also booked with felony assault with a deadly weapon for crashing into the police car, possession of a machine gun, and felony carrying a loaded weapon when not registered to the owner of it. The passenger, Fiapoto, was a booked for being a convicted felon in possession of a loaded firearm and ammunition.
Police say Fiapoto is currently on probation in San Mateo County for a prior conviction of felon in possession of a firearm. At the time of arrest, he had an outstanding felony warrant.
Both officers who were inside of patrol vehicles reportedly struck by Miller complained of pain from those collisions but declined medical attention at the scene. Miller also complained of pain in his head. He was evaluated by paramedics from the Palo Alto Fire Department and released to police at the scene.
Anyone with more information about this incident is asked to contact the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to [email protected] or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984.