Shooter alleges extortion scheme
The now-closed bar’s owner denies any plot to squeeze out money
Murder suspect Patrick Lorenzo contends that he raided Osake Sushi Bar & Lounge as an accessory to an extortion plot, but a bar manager testified yesterday that the business was never the victim of such a scheme.
If someone ever threatened them to pay up for protection, they would have called the police, said Brian Hasegawa, who was co-owner of the now-closed Kapiolani Boulevard bar.
Lorenzo, a convicted felon, is accused of fatally shooting off-duty Deputy Sheriff Daniel Browne-Sanchez, who was a barback at the lounge, shortly after 3 a.m. Feb. 10.
At the start of the trial, defense attorney Walter Rodby said two men were waiting for Lorenzo to pay back a debt. Their ultimatum was to either pay up or go into Osake, fire some shots and send a message to the owners to pay for protection if they wanted to continue operating, Rodby said.
Hasegawa was one of four owners of the Osake bar and helped Browne-Sanchez subdue Lorenzo. He testified yesterday that no protection was offered by any "thugs" and that there was no extortion attempt.
When cross-examined by the defense, Hasegawa said the bar security was handled by a man named Simon, whose seven employees were paid about $10 an hour in cash. Hasegawa did not know Simon's last name.
Hasegawa also testified how he was shot at by Lorenzo when he would not get down on the floor. Hasegawa said he could not believe anyone would come into his bar with a gun and ski mask, and thought a friend was playing a joke.
Lorenzo entered through the back of the bar, ordering two chefs into the main area while pointing a gun at one of their heads.
"I still thought it was a joke and was trying to figure out who it was," Hasegawa said. Lorenzo shot in Hasegawa's direction. Lorenzo also fired toward other employees before Browne-Sanchez fought with the felon for the gun.
Hasegawa said he got back up and tackled the two.
"I was able to grab the gun and tried to whack him in the head," Hasegawa said. Hasegawa suffered a black eye and other injuries but was able strike Lorenzo with the butt of the gun.
Rodby began asking Hasegawa about whether Browne-Sanchez had been drinking that night and to talk about how much employees were allowed to drink once the bar closed.
Prosecutor Scott Bell objected and Judge Karl Sakamoto agreed. Rodby has said toxicology results showed Browne-Sanchez was intoxicated at the time of the murder, and hoped to use the evidence to show Lorenzo did not intend to kill the barback.
Norlan Horita, who was executive chef, was the first to see Lorenzo enter the establishment. He and another chef, held at gunpoint, were ushered into the main bar area before Lorenzo shot at Hasegawa, he testified.
"I felt scared," Horita said. "I thought I was going to die."
Lorenzo is charged with second-degree murder, attempted first- and second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, two counts of kidnapping and multiple firearm violations.