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Saturday, July 29, 2000

Police officer
thought he was
going to die

The officer who answered
the Kahala bank's 911 call
appears at Batalona's trial

By Steve Murray


Fred Rosskopf, a 10-year police veteran, thought he was going to die outside American Savings Bank in Kahala. Responding to a 911 call, Rosskopf was met with a hail of bullets during a July 1999 bank robbery.

He testified yesterday in the Circuit Court trial of 24-year-old Albert Batalona, accused of pulling the trigger.

Upon arriving at the bank, he saw a masked man in black pointing a rifle at him. The man immediately opened fire.

Rosskopf dove to the ground with his gun still in its holster. He said he did not remove his weapon when he got to the bank because that might make people stop and watch what's happening.

Batalona was allegedly one of four men who stole more than $100,000 from the bank. The other men involved in the robbery -- Sean Matsunaga, 20, Jacob Hayme, 23, and Roger Dailey, 33 -- have not been charged in the shooting.

Matsunaga, Hayme and Dailey all pleaded guilty to bank robbery and may testify against Batalona, who could face a life sentence without parole if convicted of first-degree attempted murder.

Batalona's lawyer, David Klein, questioned Rosskopf's testimony about being fired upon by an automatic weapon, saying the shots could have came from several weapons.

The defense is arguing that Batalona was involved in the robbery, but not in the shooting.

Most of the testimony centered on evidence found at the scene, in the home of one of the defendants and in a bakery truck that was used as an escape vehicle.

Hiroshi Inouye, the truck's driver, said one of the defendants jumped in front of the van and ordered him out, and the man drove away. Inouye said he was not hurt when the van was taken. "He was nice to me," he said.

After the van was inspected by police, it was returned to the bakery. A few days later, an ammunition magazine was found inside the van. Bakery owner Burt Fujii said only he and his two drivers have access to the truck and that the magazine could not belong to either of the two drivers.

Klein said the magazine could have been put in the van by any number of people at the bakery or when deliveries were being made.

The prosecution was unable to match Batalona to a weapon. However, investigators did find a .357 Magnum and an AK-47 assault rifle in Hayme's home.

The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday.

Arguments will be heard Monday on whether Hayme and Matsunaga will testify. As part of their plea-bargain with the FBI, Hayme and Matsunaga must testify in the trial, said Jim Fulton, executive assistant to the prosecutor.

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