Kauai police arrest escaped inmate accused in crime spree

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Shanna Whiting)
(Image: Shanna Whiting)
(Image: Kauai police)
(Image: Kauai police)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - An escapee who allegedly went on an hours-long crime spree Friday morning has been arrested in Kokee.

Sources say 43-year-old Walter Mills was apprehended near Kokee Lodge about 4 p.m., ending a nearly eight-hour manhunt.

Dozens of Kauai police officers spent the day searching for Mills, who on Friday morning allegedly robbed a bank and a pharmacy, and is believed to be behind at least four carjackings.

Sources say he was carrying what appeared to be a gun, but it's unclear whether it was real.

During the manhunt, which forced several schools to go into lockdown, Kauai County officials cautioned residents not to approach the suspect.

"Do not approach this man. Motorists should keep doors locked," a Kauai County spokeswoman said, in a news release.

Kauai Community Correctional Center officials discovered Mills had escaped on Thursday evening, after he failed to appear at an 8 p.m. headcount.

A man matching Mills' description was then involved in a series of crimes on Friday morning:

  • About 8:30 a.m., Mills allegedly robbed the First Hawaiian Bank on Rice Street in Lihue.
  • Then, at 9:50 a.m., officers were called to Kmart at Kukui Grove Shopping Center after a man brandished a weapon and stole a Ford pickup truck from the parking lot.
  • A short time later, the suspect was reported to have left the pickup on Pahee Street in Lihue and fled the area on foot.
  • Police believe that the suspect then entered a county para-transit bus, brandished a weapon, and instructed the bus driver to take him to Koloa Road. There were no passengers on the bus at the time.
  • At approximately 10:20 a.m., police were then notified that Lifeway Pharmacy was robbed by a man matching Mills’ description.
  • Police said the suspect then carjacked two additional vehicles and was eventually dropped off at Kalawai Park in Kalaheo, where he fled on foot shortly after 11 a.m.

Sources say professional surfer and Kauai resident Rochelle Ballard is one of the carjacking victims. Friends say she was not hurt.

Kauai County officials said Mills is expected to be charged on multiple offenses relating to escape, robbery, kidnapping and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

He was arrested without incident, authorities said, after bystanders spotted him sleeping in a parked car near Kokee Lodge and called police.

Mills was serving time for theft. In July, he was sentenced to 70 months behind bars for holding up a Kapaa pharmacy and stealing thousands of prescription painkiller pills. Mills was wearing a mask when he pointed a BB gun at the pharmacist, making off with about 2,000 pills.

Hawaii correctional officials said it's unknown how Mills escaped from KCCC.

This story will be updated.

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