Maui paddlers help catch robbery suspect
A Maui paddling club helped snag a 25-year-old man Friday night from Kahului Harbor after he allegedly attempted to rob a bank and escape by swimming away from police.
"We don't usually see that kind of stuff," Na Kai Ewalu canoe club coach Boogie Wainui said yesterday, with a laugh. "That was funny."
The attempted robbery happened about 6 p.m., when the suspect demanded money from a teller at a First Hawaiian Bank in Kahului, Maui police Lt. Glenn Cuomo said. The suspect fled before getting any cash.
When he tried to run, he realized the bank's doors were locked. Cuomo said the bank's employees had locked the doors because the bank was about to close.
Fearing for the safety of people left in the bank, the manager unlocked the doors and the suspect ran.
From about an eighth of a mile away on the beach at Hoaloha Park, which shares a parking lot with the First Hawaiian Bank, Wainui said he saw the suspect "blazing down the sand and running to the water."
The man jumped into the water at Kahului Harbor and swam out about 50 yards, Wainui said.
Meanwhile, canoe club coach Robert Brede flagged down a state Department of Land and Natural Resources officer and offered to get to the suspect with the club's 18-foot motorized escort boat.
When the two got to the winded suspect, Brede said, he gave up and allowed himself to be pulled in.
"He just put his hands in the air and surrendered," Brede said. "The officer pulled him into the boat, and we took him to shore."
Police were waiting on the beach and arrested the man for second-degree attempted robbery. He did not have a weapon, Cuomo said.
Wainui said three canoes with about 16 paddlers were in the water when the suspect was trying to escape. The paddlers steered clear of the suspect, but recovered his backpack for police.