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Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Marine nabs suspect
in Kmart robbery

Sgt. Maj. Charles Funk, 48,
kept some distance from the
suspect, said to be armed

Kaneohe Marines will join Clinton on Asia trip

By Rod Ohira


Charles Funk knew the robbery suspect was armed, so he proceeded with caution, deliberately dogging the man for more than a mile.

The 48-year-old Marine sergeant major, who runs no less than three miles daily, eventually forced the worn-out suspect to surrender peacefully.

"He just ran out of gas," Funk said of 26-year-old Joshua Sazer, charged by police for second-degree robbery in Sunday's attempted hold-up of Kmart's Salt Lake store at 3:23 p.m.

"He stopped and turned around. I told him to lie down and put his hands behind his back."

A security guard, who also pursued the suspect from Kmart, handcuffed Sazer before police arrived. Sazer, who has no permanent local address, is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

"I'd heard he had a gun in the paper bag, so I just made sure I maintained good visual on him," said Funk, a 27-year Marine veteran from Bethlehem, Pa., assigned to the Combat Support Services Group at Kaneohe.

"I stayed about 50 feet back but got as close as 10 feet sometimes. He had the sack in his hand, so I watched for any (threatening) movement."

Police later determined that a toy revolver was in the sack.

Funk and his wife, Linda, came to Hawaii in early January from Beaufort, S.C.

This is Funk's second tour in Hawaii, and his two daughters, Trinity and Danyelle, are Kalaheo graduates.

"When I walked in (the Kmart), I saw a cashier crying and (the suspect) trying to get out," Linda Funk said. "He made a dash for the door, just about the time my husband was walking in.

"I told him, 'Honey, he robbed the store,' and he just turned around and went after him."

The suspect was wearing a white- or cream-colored hard hat which made him easy to spot, Linda Funk said.

The suspect ran across Salt Lake Boulevard toward the Ice Palace and went up a steep embankment into a housing area, said Charles Funk, who served in the Persian Gulf war.

After four hours of giving police statements and filling out paperwork, the Funks completed their shopping and went home.

They had planned on something better than sandwiches for dinner to celebrate Linda Funk's 50th birthday, but there were no complaints.

"Who says turning 50 is boring?" Linda Funk said. "My husband and I have known each other since the third grade, and we've been married 29 years.

"I'm very proud of him for what he did Sunday."

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