White House official beaten, robbed
Police are asking for the public's help in locating three suspects who allegedly assaulted and robbed a 25-year-old White House official in Waikiki early yesterday.
Gregg Pitts, acting White House Travel Office director, had left a Waikiki bar and was walking through the International Market Place when he was attacked at about 2 a.m., according to police.
Capt. Frank Fujii, spokesman for the Honolulu Police Department, said Pitts was knocked down, punched and kicked by three suspects. The suspects also stole his wallet and identification cards.
Pitts suffered bruises, cuts and scrapes to his face. Fujii said Pitts could not provide a description of the three suspects.
He was transported to a nearby hospital in fair condition. Pitts was awake and alert but remained behind at the hospital after President Bush's departure because of a possible concussion, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
Emily Lawrimore, another spokesperson for the White House, said Pitts is doing well and in good spirits. He is expected to be released from the hospital today to head back to Washington, D.C., Lawrimore said.
Initially, a rumor the victim was a Secret Service agent had spread. But Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge Danny Pierce of the U.S. Secret Service's Honolulu office said agents were told yesterday morning the rumor was false.
Fujii described the assault as an isolated incident and described Hawaii as a safe place.
"Yes, we are a safe city, but we are still a big city with some large-city crime. And very little when compared to cities comparable to the size of Honolulu," Fujii said at a news conference at HPD's headquarters yesterday.
Jessica Lani Rich, president and executive director of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, said, echoed Fujii's sentiment.
"I think Hawaii overall is a safe place. It's a safe destination for a majority of visitors who come here. I hope this one incident does not deter other people from coming here.
"We're standing by and eager to help him in any way we can," Rich said.
The city Prosecutor's Office's victims assistance program has also offered to help Pitts.
Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call police.
The Associated Press and contributed to this report.