"Some kids even said, 'What does it take to get TV cameras out here?'"

Kevin Katamoto
Kalihi police lieutenant

School fights in Kalihi
allegedly tied to gangs

The brawls involved Farrington
and Kalakaua students


Friday, February 25, 2005

» Farrington High School senior Joe Sagapolutele is not a gang member. A teenager quoted in a Saturday Page A4 story about Kalihi student fights misidentified himself as Sagapolutele.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

Police are investigating a series of off-campus fights in Kalihi this week that involved a dozen Farrington High School and Kalakaua Middle School students.

Police have made no arrests this week, but said hundreds of students had gathered to watch the fights that occurred Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday near the two schools.

Farrington High School Principal Catherine Payne said that while she is unsure what started the fights, gang activity has escalated recently and should be a major concern.

"I'm sure there's some gang relationship," she said. "There's probably more than 10 gangs" at Farrington, some male, some female, some along ethnic lines, she said.

Plainclothes officers investigated the fights while others patrolled potential fight sites yesterday, and a police helicopter hovered over the school.

Kalihi police Lt. Kevin Katamoto said the investigation narrowed suspects down to two people who started the first fight on Tuesday in which 10 or so friends, acquaintances and juvenile relatives joined in.

Two stories have surfaced as to what caused the first fight, police and students said. One was that a boy inappropriately touched another boy's girlfriend. The other was a case of mistaken identity.

Kalakaua Middle School students were released 10 to 15 minutes early yesterday in an attempt to get them home before the high-schoolers were let out.

"Unfortunately, they're getting younger," Katamoto said about the middle-schoolers involved in the fights.

Katamoto said police worked with school officials to track down students involved and have contacted their parents to get counseling. School officials even rode with police.

"We can't let this keep going on," he said.

Katamoto said the fights might have been an attempt to gain notoriety after recent media attention of fights at other schools.

"Some kids even said, 'What does it take to get TV cameras out here?'" he said.

A Jan. 29 Radford High School fight seemed to have spawned large brawls on and off campuses this month at Nanakuli, Waipahu and Waianae, forcing lockdowns, police said.

Students said the fights occurred at Kalakaua Gym next to the middle school and at Kamehameha field across from Kamehameha Shopping Center after school.

Katamoto said police have tried to be proactive. The helicopter, however, was a practical measure in anticipation of crowds dispersing, then regrouping at another location.

"They're moving in herds," said police Lt. Lester Hite.

Joe Sagapolutele, a member of a Samoan gang, Hollywood's Finest Bloods, claimed he fought in retaliation against a Filipino gang, Bisayan Boyz.

"They wen' mob one of our friends Tuesday," the Farrington senior said. So on Thursday the gang fought back, he said.

Gang violence is a major concern, Payne said. She said the community statewide should be conscious of this growing problem.

Payne said Farrington's five security officers, including their chief, are not enough, but have been successful in keeping most fights off campus.

She estimates 10 percent to 15 percent of the school's 2,500 students belongs to a gang.

Two social workers at the school mediate between gang members.

She said the gang activity is manifested in the growing graffiti problem and that the school has its own campus CrimeStoppers with cash rewards for anonymous tips leading to vandals' arrests.

Honolulu Police Department
CrimeStoppers Honolulu

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com