Thursday, October 7, 2004

Man had violent past
with neighbor

Keith Yamamoto allegedly attacked
"Peter" Leong several times before
setting him on fire Monday

A Punchbowl man who police say admitted to setting his neighbor on fire allegedly has attacked the same victim several times before, according to court documents.

Keith Yamamoto, 40, was charged with second-degree attempted murder, criminal property damage and two counts of terroristic threatening for allegedly trying to kill his neighbor "Peter" Lai Lim Leong, 37, by smashing Leong's car window, squirting him with gasoline and then setting him ablaze Monday morning.

After the attack, Yamamoto told a police officer in the area what he had done and turned himself in, according to the documents.

Before this assault, however, Leong stated that Yamamoto had attacked him three times since March 2003, two of which he said he reported to police, according to court documents. The men live across the street from each other along Bush Lane in lower Nuuanu.

On April 30, 2003, Leong filed a page-long description of the earlier attacks with a request for a temporary restraining order against Yamamoto.

In the description, Leong states that during the first incident, Yamamoto attacked him from behind, pushing him down to the ground and punching him. In the second incident, Leong described Yamamoto as his "deranged neighbor" who shoved him from behind while he was with his then-pregnant wife and then "ran off like a little kid."

Leong said after that incident his sister went over to Yamamoto's residence to "try and talk some sense" into him, but Yamamoto allegedly "laughed it off and did not take the conversation seriously."

Then on the day the request for the restraining order was filed, April 30, 2003, Leong stated he was in his garage at about 10 a.m. when "my crazy neighbor again attacked me from behind." Leong stated that Yamamoto dragged him to the ground and began "wildly swinging/punching me."

Then when Leong's family members came out to stop the attack, he said Yamamoto "violently swung at my family and shoved them to the ground."

After the April 30 attack, Leong said, he, his wife and his 65-year-old mother were taken away by ambulance to be treated for injuries. Leong said though nothing "serious" happened to his wife and the baby she was carrying, his mother was "bedridden due to a broken spine bone."

On May 1, 2003, the court issued a restraining order, telling Yamamoto to keep away from Leong for 15 days.

According to a police affidavit filed in this week's case, Yamamoto came after Leong again, this time as Leong was backing his car out of his carport about 10:15 a.m. Monday.

Yamamoto allegedly blocked Leong's car with his truck, preventing him from reversing out, then approached the driver's side window while pointing a spear gun at Leong and saying, "F-- you guys!"

According to the affidavit, Yamamoto smashed the driver's side window, threw liquid on Leong and then set him on fire while Leong's wife, sister and daughter were also in the car.

Leong's shirt caught fire, and he ran out of his car, heading up Bush Lane toward Lusitana Street. Yamamoto chased Leong, who escaped by flagging down a passing motorist and catching a ride, according to the affidavit.

After that, Yamamoto came across a police officer who had been investigating an unrelated purse-snatching. He told the officer that "he had set his neighbor on fire ... turned around and placed his hands behind his back."

Yamamoto had initially been arrested for first-degree attempted murder but was later charged with second-degree attempted murder. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.



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