Round Top victim shared life, lessons with inmates
ON THE night of July 7, a fellow inmate at the Oahu Community Correctional Center informed me of the tragic murder of Jason Takamori and his beloved wife, Colleen, on Round Top Drive. It was an awful shock to hear what happened to a good man and his innocent wife.
Jason was my plumbing supervisor here at OCCC. I worked closely with him from December 2003 to October 2004. During those nine months, Jason taught me how to properly perform the duties of a plumber. He was very patient and enjoyed passing on his knowledge of the plumbing trade.
Thanks to Jason, as an inmate with the pay of 63 cents per hour, I was able to perform all the plumbing needs and nighttime emergencies at OCCC, saving our state money. I also was able to pass on some of my knowledge to the next inmate who would replace me as I left for the next part of my journey at Halawa Correctional Facility.
I've been incarcerated 4 1/2 years, and now I'm on my last leg of my journey through the corrections circuit. I was moved from Waiawa Correctional Facility back to OCCC where I began.
I was back for only one day, and I was having memories of fixing many things here, the very same showers I use and drinking fountains we use. Everywhere I looked, I had a hand fixing one plumbing problem or another. I was having all these memories of Jason teaching me how to service all these different plumbing needs.
On my second day of pondering these memories, a prison guard commented, saying, "Aren't you the plumber who used to work here with Jason Takamori?" Only minutes later I find out from another inmate who was on the maintenance work line back then: "Your ex-boss Jason and his wife are in the news -- they were just shot and didn't make it."
I'M LOCKED UP because an ice addict tried to rob me, and when he put a gun to my head, I wrestled it away from him. I was found guilty of possession of a handgun that was used in an attack on me. As unfortunate as my incident turned out, I have to consider myself fortunate, after learning of Jason and Colleen Takamori's tragedy. They weren't as lucky in surviving the attack on them.
I wanted to let the public know Jason Takamori as I've known him. Even though I was charged with a crime, Jason didn't judge me. He was a good man who helped me, a prisoner, a single parent separated from my children, get through the Christmas holidays of 2003, with his very positive and spiritual outlook on life. I can still remember Jason telling me to "hang in there, stay out of trouble and do whatever you need to get back to your children. This time will pass."
THE JASON TAKAMORI I remember was at the end of a victorious bout with cancer. If he didn't tell you, you wouldn't even suspect it. He was still so full of life.
Jason always took time to listen to inmates as they would come to him with their troubles. The saddest part of this whole incident is that he had an only child he was working three jobs to put through engineering school, which she was doing so well in. When he finished working his full-time job at OCCC, Jason would work at night teaching the apprentices about plumbing for the Hawaii Plumbers Union. And if he wasn't doing that, he would play bass for the musicians union Monday Night Band, which he loved to do.
Jason was proud of the daughter they raised, and it's sad to know he cannot be there for her to offer his wisdom and encouragement as she moves on in her engineering career. Jason always spoke highly of his wife and daughter he loved so much. I'm sure his wife had a big part in his success, too.
KNOWING JASON, he was probably trying to help the taxi driver who also was slain that night. I was truly blessed to have met and worked with him. Hawaii has lost a valuable asset to our community, and he will be greatly missed.
I was blessed with the presence and wisdom of a good man who touched many lives, even in prison. My sincerest condolences to his daughter, and I hope the prayers of Hawaii go out to Jason and Colleen Takamori for their unfortunate passing. I also pray Jason's daughter perseveres and strives to live on as her loving parents would wish.
Robert Padilla resides at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.