Shop raised concerns about lax mall security months before attack

KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui businessman says he repeatedly warned managers of a shopping mall about lax security months before a man was killed in a machete attack.

Daniel Norton said he was initially reluctant to go public about what's happening at Queen Kaahumnau Center.

But the business owner told Hawaii News Now he felt he had a moral obligation to speak up before someone else gets hurt.

"We cannot justify keeping quiet about this situation in light of this family's loss," said Norton.

Norton asked that the name of his business not be used, but provided photos showing people loitering outside his storefront.

He said he's been raising the issues to mall security for nearly a year.

"All day I'm looking at the activity in front of our shop," said Norton. "It's a variety of different people. The largest group is about four."

Last month, 35-year-old Eduardo Alejandro Cerezo was killed in a machete attack in a restroom at the mall. The victim's family has questioned a "lack" security, and called for an independent review of surveillance footage.

Kumulipo Sylva has confessed to killing Cerezo, court documents said, and witnesses said it appeared to have stemmed from a dispute on a bus.

The suspect also told officers he killed the victim because he was a demon.

Norton said the problems at the mall started last July, but have escalated more recently.

On top of customer complaints, he says people can no longer sit outside without being harassed.

"The conversations I've had with mall management have been very contentious. Almost from the outset," said Norton. "They refused to act on Hawaii law regarding loitering and would not do anything to protect our staff which I was concerned about and other customers."

Norton said his problem isn't with the security guards but with mall management, which he says aren't allowing the guards to move people along.

After repeatedly asking for the mall's policy on loitering, Norton said he received an email from the mall's operations officer in the weeks following Cerezo's murder. It read in part, "Kindly provide your home address" so he could "personally pay for the bus tickets for all the transients to be sent to your home."

HNN contacted mall management to ask about Norton's concerns. A spokesman responded with a no comment.

"I believe if the security company was allowed to implement their own policies unencumbered by the mall management that this situation might not have happened," Norton said.

In a statement, Cerezo's family said they are :concerned and disappointed by the Queen Kaahumanu Center management's response."

"We are shocked that a management level employee would send such a callous email at all, let alone weeks following Alex's tragic death," the statement said. "It is our hope that Alex's death and the security issues brought to light today will result in significant changes to the security and operations."

The family has set up an email for people to offer other insights into the security situation at the mall.

People are being asked to send tips here: shoppingmallsafety@gmail.com.

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