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Stabbing is latest high-profile violent crime in O‘ahu’s Keeaumoku Street area

HONOLULU — Sang Hoon Park, an employee at Kickin Kajun, was closing up the restaurant Saturday evening when he heard ambulances and saw at least 15 police cars pull up across the street.

He called his friend who was grocery shopping at the Keeaumoku Street Walmart at the time who told him that someone was on the ground bleeding.

A 32-year-old man was stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife by an unidentified male at the bus stop outside the store at 9:55 p.m. Saturday.

As of Monday, the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) had not released more information on the attack besides, “The victim was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition. The suspect fled on foot.”

Charles Crowson, a Walmart spokesman, confirmed that the victim was a store employee, and said in a statement “we’ll continue working closely with law enforcement through the course of their investigation.”

Park, who lives a few blocks away, started working at Kickin Kajun about two years ago. Over time he has felt increasingly unsafe in the area due to rising disturbances.

“Sometimes we see police cars and ambulances come up to the Walmart area, but nothing like this — stabbing people,” Park said. “These kinds of things happen more and more. I see a lot of scary things happening, but this is my first time seeing something like this with my own eyes around my area.”

“It’s getting more dangerous.”

Park mentioned that especially in his work area at Ke‘eaumoku Plaza and around Ross and Walmart, he regularly sees people loitering. While he acknowledged that some of them are harmless and “nice,” he said he believed others pose a threat.

Vittada Satatongsat, owner of King of Thai Boat Noodles, which is across from Walmart, said she has had to call the police “a couple times” due to homeless people causing disturbances in her restaurant.

While she has not personally experienced or witnessed violent crime, she was not surprised by the news of the Saturday night stabbing due to the frequent sirens that are heard in the area.

She worries that after a high-profile case like this, businesses may be affected as customers “will be scared to come around the area.”

Other high-profile crimes in the Ke‘eaumoku area this year have included the Jan. 23 acid attack on a Chinese-language teacher outside Planet Fitness near Ala Moana Center and the Feb. 18 stabbing of three men, one fatally, on Makaloa Street.

Council Chair Tommy Waters said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “Public safety is among the council’s highest priorities, and the unexpected nature of these most recent incidents is both unnerving and undermines the community’s sense of safety.”

Waters said the council recognized the need for increased safety when it approved the administration’s request to raise the overall budget for HPD by more than $12 million for the upcoming budget year. Additionally, an extra $400,000 has been allocated to expand and train community policing teams in all patrol districts.

“We are committed to making significant investments in HPD to provide our officers the necessary staffing, facilities, equipment, and support to keep people safe across the island and within individual communities,” he said.

Since January, there have been 227 reported violent crimes in District 1, which encompasses the Ala Moana area. In June alone there were 16 cases: seven aggravated assaults, seven forcible sex offenses and two robberies.

Over the weekend since Friday, around the Ala Moana Center area, there were six reported cases of assault logged on HPD’s website; four of these were classified as simple assaults, and two as aggravated assaults.

HPD Deputy Chief Keith Horikawa said the major crime categories, including violent offenses and robberies, have been trending down in Honolulu, with the exception of homicides and assaults involving weapons. He noted a significant increase in homicides, which have risen 75 percent this year in Honolulu. So far, in 2024, there have been 14 reported homicides, compared with eight for the same period in 2023.

While overall crime rates have been decreasing, some residents don’t see it.

Sierra Vyntrell said she feels increasingly unsafe living in Hawai‘i. The McCully resident noted that recent news and a personal experience of her car being broken into have made her more cautious about her surroundings when she’s out and about.

“I used to walk around more often, but now I drive to where I have to be because I don’t feel as safe,” she said.

Despite statistical trends suggesting otherwise, Horikawa acknowledged that it does appear that there have been more of these incidents this year, largely due to several high-profile cases, including the acid attack in January and the Manoa murder-suicide on March 10 that left five family members dead.

Horikawa said social media users tend to focus on more brazen or sensational crimes involving weapons.

“The perception might be there, and the perception is reality, of course,” he said. “We want to address the fears among the public, so we have a bunch of ongoing initiatives.”

Horiwaka said that among the ongoing efforts to address crime in the state, one major concern is drug-related issues. Hawai‘i has been considered as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, prompting almost 20 years of collaboration with federal initiatives to increase resources aimed at tackling both drug distribution and usage crimes within the state.

State Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana- Kaka‘ako) said the state has been collaborating with law enforcement agencies to combat crime.

In addition to initiatives like Safe and Sound Waikiki to maintain neighborhood safety, she also said the Legislature has passed several bills this session awaiting Gov. Josh Green’s signature, aimed at implementing stricter penalties for crimes.

“I know that the HPD works really hard to try to address all these problems,” Moriwaki said. She said the HPD District 1 commander, Paul Okamoto, has “been very proactive with his officers.”

She acknowledged that District 1 covers a large area, but emphasized that the officers are collaborating with the community.

“This is tragic, and we want to prevent these things from happening,” said Moriwaki of the latest stabbing.
Source: The Garden Island

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