Family of man killed in machete attack questions 'lack' of mall security

(Image: Maui 24/7)
(Image: Maui 24/7)
The suspect, Kumulipo Iwa Sylva (Image: Maui Police)
The suspect, Kumulipo Iwa Sylva (Image: Maui Police)
(Image: Patricia Villarruel)
(Image: Patricia Villarruel)

MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of a man brutally murdered in a machete attack at a Maui mall is asking for an independent investigation to determine whether the death could have been prevented.

Eduardo Alejandro Cerezo, 35, was killed in a machete attack March 18 in a restroom at Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center.

"It's devastating for a family to lose a son in such a tragic way. We're just looking for answers," said Cerezo's mother, Patricia Villarruel.

Villarruel is calling for a review of the security measures at both Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center and Maui Bus Transit. She wants to know if their son's death could have been prevented and to make sure  it doesn't happen again.

"We miss him terribly. Our world has been turned upside down," said Villarruel. "We're trying to retrace the steps. Find out what happened. Find out how could this have been prevented and more people alerted. Where was the security at?"

Villarruel says her son went to the mall with a friend to grab some food. That's where he was murdered in a machete attack inside a restroom.

He'd never met the suspect Kumulipo Sylva, who confessed to the killing. Court documents say the attack stemmed from a dispute on the bus.

Records show once at the mall Sylva challenged Cerezo to a fight but he refused and walked away. Police say Sylva followed him to the bathroom and slashed his throat. He told officers he killed Cerezo because he was a demon.

The family says the mall refused their request for surveillance video.

When HNN reached out to Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center, mall management would not comment about the family's request for an independent investigation.

"I just want to know if there was something that could have been done at the mall to prevent this tragic killing. I want to know and I want to help in anyway that I can to prevent any future incidents of this caliber," Villarruel.

Cerezo  leaves behind a 14-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. His family says he was a hard worker who loved to barbecue and spend time with loved ones.

"He was the best person I ever knew," said his sister Emily Barrera.

Cerezo's memorial service was held last week with family and a few close friends.

"We can't turn back time but we definitely can move forward. Seek those answers," said Villarruel. "Find them so that our son's killing will not be in vain. So there will be some sort of closure for us."

The family also thanked Maui police and a group of good Samaritans whose information on the whereabouts of the suspect helped officers make a quick arrest.

Sylvia remains in jail without bail.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.