Drugs are to blame for 2 car chases this week, police say
Police blame drugs for the risk-taking behavior by suspects in two dramatic police pursuits of stolen vehicles in two days this week.
"Any time you have a lot of methamphetamine users, these things are going to happen," said Lt. Hank Nobriga, of the Honolulu Police Department's Auto Theft Detail.
Authorities have charged the four suspects in the two cases.
On Thursday, Kelley Gene Hager, 36, led police on an islandwide chase until he crashed a stolen blue Dodge Stratus into a sport utility vehicle at the intersection of North Hotel and Bethel streets.
Hager was charged yesterday with driving a stolen vehicle, two counts of third-degree promotion of dangerous drugs and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police recovered a glass pipe with residue on the front passenger-side floor of the stolen car, court documents said. They also found five packets containing what resembled crystal methamphetamine and residue resembling crack cocaine, police said.
Hager fled into a posh downtown condominium building's parking garage at 1212 Nuuanu Ave. after the crash. He was captured after hiding under a motorcycle cover following a three-hour search of the garage by the police SWAT team.
His passenger, Malia Waters, fled into a Ross Dress for Less store, where she was caught by a man who witnessed her flee from the Dodge after the 1:10 p.m. collision.
Bail for each was set at $50,000.
On Wednesday the driver of a stolen minivan ripped through two lanes of town-bound traffic on Kalanianaole Highway near Ainakoa Street as police approached on foot. The minivan left 13 damaged vehicles in its path and nearly ran over a man on a motorcycle, the police affidavit said.
The driver, Patrick T. Masaoka, was charged with first-degree attempted murder, 13 counts of first-degree criminal property damage, two counts of third-degree promotion of dangerous drugs and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $250,000.
His passenger, Randy W. Ahnee, was charged with identical drug charges, and his bail was set at $50,000.
Three uniformed officers approached the minivan on foot when the van driver suddenly turned the tires to the left in one of the officers' direction, and the van "leaped toward the police officer nearly striking the police officer," court documents said.
The officer fired at the van and retreated, and would have been struck by the van if she had not retreated out of its path, the affidavit said.
No keys were found in the ignition or near the van, the police affidavit said.
Police arrested both suspects near the scene as they tried to flee.
The two police pursuits will be reviewed by the Motor Vehicle Pursuit Review Board, said Maj. David Kajihiro, a board member.
So far this year, police reviewed 39 pursuits, not including this week's cases, as compared with 37 last year.
At any point during a pursuit, the officer or a supervisor will terminate it once anyone feels it is dangerous, Kajihiro said.
"There is an amount of risk involved, and we try to weigh those risks in every situation," he said. "We cannot let everyone go just because they're attempting to flee the police ... because before we know it ... they'll just run away, we won't catch anyone."