Homeless man sought
in fatal Ala Wai shooting

The suspect and victim, also
homeless, allegedly had argued
over their belongings

By Rod Antone

Honolulu police are looking for a homeless man armed with a handgun who allegedly shot and killed another homeless man early yesterday morning at the Ala Wai Community Park.

Police said the suspect was last seen running down Kapiolani Boulevard then on to Date Street before 2 a.m. The shooting took place about 1:47 a.m. in one of the park's bleachers after both men got into an argument about their belongings, police said.

The suspect in this case is described as a 27-year-old man, 5-foot-11, 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black sweater and black pants.

"The suspect had not been seen in the park for about two to three weeks, then returned and started looking for his things," said Homicide Lt. Bill Kato. "There were several homeless people who had their things in the bleachers and he started going through their belongings.

"The victim, who was up in the bleachers, said 'Don't touch my stuff' and that's when the argument broke out," Kato said.

The victim, identified only as a 37-year-old man, was taken to Queen's Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival after suffering a gunshot wound to his left eye.

Regular park users, including canoe paddlers and coaches, say problems with the homeless have been increasing at the park in the last year.

"There's always three or four of them by the bathrooms and more in the bleachers," said Gavin Chun, a St. Louis High School paddling coach. "We try to keep our kids away from there because sometimes you can smell them smoking pakalolo."

Butch Ukishima, also a St. Louis paddling coach, said: "One guy stole the bike seat off one of our paddler's bikes. Then one of our coaches confronted the guy and he gave it back."

Arlene Reventas, a St. Andrew's Priory paddling coach, said: "Ever since the bathrooms were renovated, they've been sleeping in the bleachers on a regular basis. When the sun goes down and I'm standing here with a 13-year-old girl waiting for her parents to pick her up, I don't feel very comfortable."

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, under whose district the park falls, said she had not received any complaints within the last year about homeless people. However, she is concerned about the incident for two reasons: safety and finding a long-term solution.

"I'm not surprised that there are homeless people there, especially after they closed Aala Park," Kobayashi said. "When you close parks to the homeless, you don't get rid of the problem, you just recirculate the problem."

She added: "We need to find a solution, as they did in San Francisco, where they renovated old hotels with federal funding to provide a base for the homeless ... because we have to make sure that parks like the Ala Wai are safe. ... There are so many youth teams that play down there, and also seniors."

One homeless man who did not want to be identified said he slept at the park regularly and that most of the transient population just wants what everybody else wants at this time of year: to live in peace during the holidays.

"I moved away from the big city in the mainland to get away from all this," he said. "The neighbor islands sound pretty good right about now."

Anyone with any information on the shooting is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cellular phone.

E-mail to City Desk


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