The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office will be adding hate crime enhancements to charges against three men arrested April 17 on suspicion of a string of armed robberies in Palo Alto and Milpitas, alleging that they exclusively targeted Asian people, prosecutors said April 20.
Siahola J’lan Tupouata, 18, Tavita Lauti Fifita, 21, and Curtis Eddie Charles Freeman, 19, were all taken into custody after being pulled over in a vehicle that was reported stolen out of Oakland earlier April 17, Palo Alto police said. They were scheduled to be arraigned April 20.
The three are accused of using a white Kia Sportage SUV as a getaway car in three separate robberies that involved threats at gunpoint.
Prosecutors say they have evidence that shows that the men targeted Asian people because of their perceived wealth.
According to prosecutors, in one case the men allegedly held a gun to the head of a man parked in his home garage in the 1100 block of Trinity Lane, with his wife standing outside the car and two children still seated in the back.
Shortly afterward, at about 7 p.m., another person was robbed of her phone in the 800 block of Marshall Drive.
The trio is accused of also robbing someone in Milpitas in the same way shortly after the Palo Alto robberies. The victims’ phones were allegedly found in the vehicle, along with multiple other phones and a pistol that shoots blanks.
No injuries were reported in any of the robberies.
All three men are facing charges of felony robbery with hate crime enhancements, prosecutors said.