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Rash of violence brings plea for lights, cameras


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POSTED: Saturday, April 04, 2009

Residents of River Pauahi Apartments were shaken by the stabbing of a man and beating of a woman yesterday at the same downtown location where a man was gunned down last Saturday.

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“;They're terrified of what happened last Saturday night,”; apartment property manager Randy Leong said about the killing of Joseph Peneueta at Pauahi and River streets. “;If we don't do something about it, it'll continue.”;

He said he submitted a petition that 39 building residents signed asking the Downtown Neighborhood Board to request that the city install more cameras and lighting in the area.

“;It's hard for us to sleep in our room,”; said one of the residents, Diane Ronquillo.

Police said a large group of men arrived together and assaulted a 31-year-old man and 26-year-old woman.

According to one witness, two men beat the man, who was also stabbed in the abdomen, and two other men punched the woman yesterday on River Street.

The witness, who wanted to remain unnamed for fear of retaliation, said the two victims hung around the neighborhood.

People who work nearby say drug dealing is common around the area.

Police received the call about an assault at about 1:40 p.m. They closed off River Street between Pauahi and Beretania streets to investigate for hours.

Maj. Clayton Kau said police are investigating the attack, and at this point are not saying whether the case was related to the shooting death of Peneueta.

Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, said the injured man went to the hospital on his own, while paramedics took the woman to the hospital. The woman was in serious condition, Cheplic said. No information was available on the man's condition.

Yesterday's attack was the third violent incident for residents this year. In February a shooting damaged trees and some apartment property. No one was hurt.

“;We want our place safer,”; Ronquillo said.

There is already a camera on a light pole at Pauahi and River streets that feeds into the police substation. The camera is a 360-degree rotating device.

The neighborhood board agreed to ask the city to look into additional cameras if the money is available and if it would be useful.

“;We think it is serious,”; said board Chairman Frank Lavoie.

As police were investigating yesterday's incident, Evolyn Peneueta, Peneueta's cousin, visited Peneueta's memorial, which is made of flowers, Heineken and Hennessy bottles, and about a dozen blue bandannas.

“;It was my free time to come into town, then I seen all this,”; she said.

She said she did not know whether the knife attack was connected to her cousin's shooting.