CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Broken cars and a punching bag that David Domingues would hit and cuss at remain at his Henoheno Place residence.
Ahuimanu families take back community
Terrified by 15 years of threats from a neighbor, residents finally have hope
THEY WERE ALWAYS on the lookout from their windows. Their doors were always locked, windows closed. Their children played inside, protected by alarm systems, guard dogs and gates. On weekends, there were no backyard parties. On holidays, no get-togethers.
For 15 years, residents of a small Ahuimanu community shut themselves in their homes to shut out the harassment and threats allegedly thrown at them by one neighbor, who left them in constant worry over the safety of their families.
According to an indictment and other court documents, 38-year-old David Domingues threatened to kill at least five neighbors since moving in with his mother in 1990, told two he'd burn their houses down, pretended to shoot one woman with an imaginary rifle and would regularly wake residents at 5:30 a.m. by shouting obscenities and threats from his yard or the street.
At least two families that could no longer stand living in fear have moved away. Others have seriously considered it.
Only by banding together in a series of informal community meetings over the last three months were they able to secure a battlefield victory in their quiet war against Domingues, who is unemployed and lives at 47-503 Henoheno Place.
A grand jury indicted him on Wednesday on two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening and he is expected to appear in Circuit Court tomorrow. Domingues is being held on $2 million bail, and is prohibited from coming within 500 feet of two neighbors in his Henoheno Place cul-de-sac.
Domingues' attorney, Randy Oyama, declined comment on the allegations against his client yesterday. He did criticize Domingues' bail amount, calling it "shocker."
Residents who live next to and behind Domingues say it will take months -- years, perhaps -- for them to heal, allow their children to play outside again or feel safe walking past Domingues' home.
One couple said their daughter was rarely able to have sleepovers when she was growing up. And, they said, if Domingues' yelling -- usually laced with curses, racial slurs and threats -- started, her friends would have to be driven home.
WHEN THEIR DAUGHTER was 5, they moved her from a room closest to Domingues' home to one farthest away so that she could sleep more soundly. About the same time, the family stopped inviting friends and relatives over for holidays or special occasions.
"You feel so helpless," said the mother of the family. She and her husband filed a temporary restraining order against Domingues, but asked that her name be withheld for fear of being retaliated against. "It's almost embarrassing to say we let it go for so long. It's going to take a long time to heal."
A second neighbor, who also did not want to be named, said she can't pass her living room picture window without looking out to make sure Domingues isn't around. Sometimes, she'll make special trips just to double check.
She and her husband have only lived in the neighborhood for five months and are already wondering how their neighbors could have lived with Domingues for so long. "It's easier to be intimidated if you think you're alone," the woman said, shaking her head while standing at her front door last week.
In statements for their TROs, families chronicled a life of "absolute terror," as the Matsumotos, who live on Waipua Place, put it.
"My children have never been allowed to play in their own backyard," the Matsumotos wrote. "His profanity-laced outbursts have often caused my children to cower in fear in their bedroom closets."
Neal and Valery Ishida, who moved in next door to Domingues in 1994, said in their TRO that the suspect's harassment has increased over the years "and we feel it has come to a dangerous point, where he is threatening our lives, our home and our property." Neal Ishida also said Domingues twice threatened to kill him.
And in September, according to the TRO, Domingues said he would burn down Ishida's home and shoot his family.
IN JULY, WHEN the Kapecs came with a Realtor to see what would become their first Hawaii home, a neighbor introduced herself, welcomed them and then warned them that the community has one big problem.
The couple, who had recently moved from Maryland, didn't quite know what to do with the warning about Domingues and brushed it off. But, they said, a week after they moved in the harassment started.
Lamont Kapec said Domingues showed up in front of their house one day and started shouting racially charged insults at the two. Domingues would also regularly walk the cul-de-sac, April Kapec said, acting out what looked like karate moves and yelling insults and threats at his neighbors.
"In the sanctity of your home, you don't expect somebody to come down and make threats that totally dig down into your soul," Lamont Kapec said. "My neighbors were afraid for their life."
One early morning in September, Kapec said, Domingues screamed, "I'm going to f-- you up guaranteed," into the couple's home from either the sidewalk or street below.
That's when Kapec called the police and filed a temporary restraining order against Domingues. He was the first in the neighborhood to do so, and after it was filed Domingues stepped up his taunting and insults, Kapec said.
So he and his wife decided they needed to try a different tactic.
In mid-September, they planned a community meeting. Kapec told three or four neighbors about the gathering, and 13 showed up.
They talked about their experiences with Domingues, how their lives had been disrupted and what they could do to take back their community. They decided, one by one, to file TROs. The Ishida family filed theirs on Oct. 3, Jerome Ricardi and his wife filed a day later, two families filed on Oct. 10 and the Shotas filed on Oct. 14.
They hired an attorney, as a community, to represent them.
And they continued to hold meetings every few weeks to discuss their progress and what they needed to do next. Slowly, Kapec said, the harassment subsided. On Nov. 14, Domingues was arrested.
It's not the end of the story.
Residents say they've been buoyed by Domingues' indictment and by how the neighborhood has come together over the past three months.
"This has been a collective effort to restore our community and make everyone feel safe," Lamont Kapec said. "All that we've done as a community is step up. We've taken back our community."
Before the end of the year, two neighbors vowed, the community will have a block party to celebrate their new friendships. And some residents are even readying their homes for Christmas. This year, they said, they'll host.