Wednesday, November 3, 1999



By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
At the Red Cross counseling area next to the Xerox office
on Nimitz Highway, counselors comfort people and watch
as the first two bodies were brought out yesterday afternoon.

Deaths senseless to
families and friends

Bullet Tributes to victims
Bullet Flags half-staff
Bullet Xerox CEO flying in

By Susan Kreifels
and Lori Tighe


When his telephone page was not returned, Reid Kawamae feared the worst.

Kawamae was on his way to the beach yesterday morning when he heard about the shootings at Xerox Info Boxon his car radio. His father had worked there for 30 years and loved his job.

Panicked, Kawamae paged his 54-year-old father, Ronald Kawamae, immediately.

He never got a reply.

Ronald Kawamae was among the seven men slain at Xerox yesterday. Byran Uyesugi, 40, a Xerox employee, is being held in the deaths.

All who knew the men, who ranged in age from 33 to 58, kept hoping they weren't among the dead. The victims were described as nice people no one would have reason to dislike.

The Mark family received a double blow. By this morning, the shocking word had spread among their many family members that they had lost two nephews: Peter Mark and Melvin Lee, first cousins. Their aunts were tearful as they called one another with the bad news.

"When something like this happens, it's a lot from one family," said a cousin, Sylvia Mann. "We didn't know they worked at the same place."

Info BoxReid Kawamae, 34, could make no sense of the tragedy. "I'm kind of in shock," he said yesterday from his home in Hawaii Kai. "No sense, kind of senseless."

When his father didn't answer his page, Reid Kawamae drove immediately to Xerox and waited with other family members at the Eagle Cafe next door, where he heard the news about his father.

It was the second recent blow for the city bus driver. First came the death of his 75-year-old grandfather due to a stroke. And now his father, who lived alone in Makiki.

Reid Kawamae, who has a 4-year-old son, Reinton, last saw his father in a restaurant about a week ago. "He liked his job, he liked golf. We were going to play together."

He doesn't have any explanation for what happened yesterday. "Why? We'll probably never know."

Those who knew the seven victims say they were nice guys, family men, friends and good neighbors. They played basketball with their daughters and golf with their sons. They were local folks. Here's a look at them.

Melvin Lee, 58

Melvin Lee managed his job with his heart, said a Xerox co-worker, who asked not to be named.

"That's why it doesn't make sense," said the man, who described Lee as soft-spoken, considerate and not confrontational in any way.

Lee was a field manager in customer service. He carried a tool bag, repairing Xerox machines for 20 years before becoming a manager about 10 years ago. He was close to retirement. He had three children and lived with his wife, Ann, in Waipahu.

"He's not the kind of guy who would anger somebody," his co-worker said. "He was a very warm person, which makes it all less logical. Nobody gets mad at Mel."

Ronald Kataoka, 50

The lights were out at the Kataoka home in Mililani last night. Neighbors recalled a glow of quiet life that usually filled it before Ronald Kataoka was murdered with his co-workers. His death left behind an 11-year-old daughter and wife.

"He was a family man," said Roxanne Sivalop, who lives next door to the Kataokas. "He was always smiling. He never shouted at his family. It's so unfortunate."

James Pancho, a neighbor of Kataoka's since 1978, said he often saw Kataoka playing basketball in the driveway with his daughter.

"He was always upbeat and smiling. I never heard him raise his voice," Pancho said. "He was a real nice guy, a good guy."

Pancho, who lives on Lea Place in Mililani, said Kataoka worked at Xerox for at least 10 years and would work on the copy machines at Schofield Barracks.

"It's hard to believe," Sivalop said, "especially in Hawaii where you never think of anyone going ballistic shooting their co-workers."

Sivalop also worried for the lives of her sister and friends who worked downtown yesterday while the killer was still loose.

"It's become more popular for some reason to shoot your co-workers," she said. "Why did he have to shoot all of them? Now I'm thinking I better be nice to all the people I work with because you just never know."

John Sakamoto, 36

A neighbor of John Sakamoto in Kalama Valley spent last night thinking about the two young children and wife he left behind. Sakamoto had a daughter about age 4 and a son about age 2.

"He was a really good friend of mine," said the neighbor, who asked not to be named. "We always helped each other out. I'm worried about his wife and two kids. He was good with his family."

Ford Kanehira, 41

Chester Kanehira described his cousin, Ford, as "a very cheerful person, childlike and innocent."

"We were hoping it wasn't him. We had some suspicion. We understood he worked with the team on the newer equipment."

Ford Kanehira, of Kaneohe, left behind his wife, Lorna, and his 5-year-old son, Brice.

"We're taking it pretty bad," he said. "I just don't know how I can help the situation. I'm waiting to see what I can do."

His other cousin, Jolie Kanehira, said Ford was a "happy-go-lucky" man. "Everybody is in such shock."

Christopher "Jason" Balatico, 33

His family asked to be given some time to deal with the shock before they could comment.

A classmate from the Farrington High School class of 1984 said he was handsome and very popular in school.

Peter Mark, 46

Peter Mark and his wife Karen had two young children, according to relatives.

"He was a very good boy," said a tearful aunt, Isabel Tam. "He was very well liked. Peter used to come to our house and play with my son."

Tam said she hoped he was not a victim at Xerox, but when she heard Mark's age, she knew it was probably him.

Tam was even more shocked to find out Melvin Lee, another nephew, had also been killed. "Even Melvin," she said, crying.

Tributes to victims:
Flowers, note and beer

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Floral tributes to the seven men slain at the offices of Xerox Corp. lined a gray stone wall this morning, fronting the white Nimitz Highway building where the day before a technician unleashed his rage.

Catherine Barroga stopped by the two-story building just a little past 7 this morning with her young daughter to offer a bouquet of red anthuriums as a tribute to Peter Mark, 46, who, along with suspect Byran K. Uyesugi, serviced copy machines at the Hilton Hawaiian Village sales department where she works.

"Peter was a very friendly person who liked to joke," Barroga said.

As for Uyesugi, Barroga said she didn't know much about him.

"He was a very quiet person," she said, reflecting what many had already said about the man suspected of engineering the worst multiple murder in Hawaii's history.

"At times he would just say hello."

More than 15 leis -- red carnation, ginger and other floral combinations -- had been left overnight by friends and co-workers. A dozen long-stemmed, dark red and white carnations also were laid on the 2-foot-high wall.

One person left an open can of Budweiser beer with a handwritten note to victim Jason Balatico, 33.


"We will miss your smile, laughter,
and yes, even your practical jokes.
This one is for you.


Barroga said she last saw both Mark and Uyesugi a few weeks ago.

When she first heard that the shootings involved Xerox workers, she said her first reaction was, "Why?" and then, "I just hope it's no one I know."

Flags fly at half-staff
for the seven dead

Gov. Ben Cayetano has ordered state flags flown at half-staff in respect for the seven people killed yesterday at the Xerox Corp. offices on Nimitz Highway. The observance will remain in effect until services for all victims are completed.

"To the families who have lost those dearest to them, know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of all Hawaii's people," Cayetano said.

Xerox CEO arriving
to help firm recover

By Rush Lynch


Xerox Corp.'s Chief Executive Officer G. Richard "Rick" Thoman arrived in Honolulu this morning and began a series of meetings with employees and the families of yesterday's victims.

Thoman said that, at the least, Xerox will pay the funeral expenses of the seven dead employees and is seeking other ways to support the families and ease their grief and hardships.

"There is nothing we can do, as individuals or as a company, to reverse this horrific action of senseless Info Boxviolence," Thoman said in a statement issued soon after his arrival.

The statement said Thoman had been on a business trip to Germany and was headed back to corporate headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., when he heard about the shooting. He had the aircraft go on to Honolulu.

At a news conference today, Thoman was to announce the company's intention to establish a nonprofit fund to benefit the families of victims impacted by violent crimes in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, Xerox offices here remained closed today.

"We plan to open tomorrow and have counselors on hand," to help employees, Carl Langsenkamp, a Xerox spokesman in Rochester, said today.

"Counseling was set up within hours yesterday on site" at the parts warehouse at 1200 N. Nimitz Highway where the shooting took place, Langsenkamp said. He said counseling will be available to any employee who needs it.

The 9,000-employee international company has never had an incident like this, he said.

Langsenkamp declined to say anything about Byran Uyesugi, citing the company's policy of confidentiality about its employees, except to confirm that he is still an employee and has worked for Xerox in Honolulu since 1984.

Xerox Hawaii opened in 1961 as a one-person office and the company said it now has about 150 employees in Hawaii.

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