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Kaua‘i Police Department officers honored for arresting evasive burglary suspect

LIHU‘E — Seven Kaua‘i Police Department officers were honored Friday for bringing in a burglary suspect, who evaded arrest three times before he was finally caught.

In January and February of this year, the South Shore was hit with a rash of car break-ins and burglaries.

Police Commission Vice Chair Andrew Bestwick was among those targeted by burglars, who managed to break into his Toyota Tacoma through a small back window.

“I don’t know if maybe they were in Cirque du Solei or what,” joked Bestwick at the Police Commission meeting on Friday. “It’s unnerving, not knowing if they’re going to get caught.”

Two suspects with outstanding bench warrants were identified as possible culprits. While one was apprehended in a Waimea home, the other proved more elusive.

Officers began a multi-week, cat-and-mouse chase with the remaining suspect, searching the Po‘ipu coastline on foot, and using their cellphones in “ingenious ways” to lure the suspect out of hiding, according to KPD Lt. Aaron Lester.

During one arrest attempt, the suspect, who was homeless, jumped out of a tent and pushed an officer aside before running away. On another occasion, he jumped out of a vehicle at a traffic stop and managed to escape on foot. The quick-footed suspect evaded police on foot a third time during a February arrest attempt at Mahalepu.

“The suspect was extremely difficult to apprehend and by all accounts was going to use any means to evade capture,” said Lester.

In this case, the fourth try was the charm.

On Feb. 16, police learned the suspect was at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, and improvised a plan to bring him in.

Police used The Kaua‘i Bus as “concealment,” and managed to surprise the suspect, Lester said. After a nearly five-minute struggle, he was finally apprehended.

Officers Patrick Hutton, James Gause, Kinsey Gregory, James Paterson, Tyler Uratsuka, Kyle Melchor, Blake Saito were all honored as employees of the month for their actions in the arrests.

KPD chief Todd Raybuck voiced appreciation for the officers’ “great tactical methods and persistence,” in bringing in the suspect.

“Most of us will go through our lives without becoming the victim of a crime, but when we do it’s the burglaries, unauthorized entry into motor vehicles, which are typically when we experience our first victimization,” said Raybuck.

“Even though it doesn’t seem like a sexy crime to be chasing people for, because they didn’t rob or murder or do some gun violence — it has a significant impact on the victim because their personal space is violated.”

Officer Patrick Hutton credited their sergeant, Bernard Purisima, who recently retired from the department, for the successful arrest.

“He was really the driving force behind all the missions to catch these guys. I think it was personal for him, before he retired,” said Hutton.

Purisma is one of a series of longtime officers, who recently announced their retirements. Also leaving the department are Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce, Sgt. Ken Cummings and Lt. James Miller.


Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or
Source: The Garden Island

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