Thursday, January 14, 1999

Wahiawa grocer escapes
injury, thanks to robber’s
defective gun

By Rod Ohira


A Wahiawa grocer says the 20-year-old Kahuku man who allegedly shot his wife in the face during a robbery Friday also tried to shoot him.

"I was three feet away from him, and he pointed the gun at my chest," California Market owner Paul Fithian said at yesterday's preliminary hearing for Tomas Quintares, a.k.a. Tomas Quirantes.

"He pulled the trigger twice but the gun didn't go off."

Detective Nick Cambra testified that Scientific Investigation Section specialist Curtis Kubo tested the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun recovered at the scene and found the firearm had a defective firing pin that "occasionally caused it to misfire."

Quintares, who has previous convictions for second-degree robbery and auto theft, is charged with one count of first-degree and two counts of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery and firearms violations.

District Judge Colette Garibaldi set his case for trial and confirmed bail at $500,000.

Quintares will be arraigned Jan. 25 in Circuit Court.

The three suspects who fled the scene were identified by Wahiawa's Crime Reduction Unit and have been arrested, Cambra said outside of the courtroom.

Two men, ages 32 and 26, were arrested Tuesday in Pearl City and Hauula, respectively, while a 25-year-old man was taken into custody yesterday in Kalihi.

The shooting victim -- Pok Cha Fithian, 46 -- is doing well and could be released from Queen's Hospital later this week, Cambra said.

Paul Fithian, 53, testified that his wife, who was bringing him dinner, entered the market at about 5:50 p.m. and saw that he was involved in a struggle with Quintares. "She tried to intervene.

"He broke loose from me as we were fighting, pulled the gun up and fired two shots."

Fithian said he saw his wife grab her face and fall. He then rushed back toward Quintares and began wrestling with him.

"We struggled, and he went down but got back up," Fithian said. "He still had the gun in his hand. He pointed it at my chest, pulled the trigger and looked at the gun in amazement (after it didn't fire).

"He looked at me and I rushed him. The gun came out of his hand."

Fithian said his wife picked up the gun and struck Quintares on the head with it before running out of the store.

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