PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii police arrested a Pahala man on Thursday morning in connection with a robbery in the lava-ravaged lower Puna area.
A 29-year-old man from Opihikao and his acquaintance, a 37-year-old man from California, told police that they were photographing the eruption on Kamaili Road around 10:45 p.m., when they were approached by two men. One allegedly pulled out a handgun while the other demanded that they give them their camera equipment.
The victims told police they gave them their equipment and were able to drive away. No gunshots were fired, and no one was injured in the incident.
When police arrived back near the scene of the incident around 2:45 a.m. on Thursday, police found two men near a parked SUV. Upon inspecting the inside of the vehicle, officers found camera equipment matching the victims' description.
Police arrested the two men 50-year-old Edward Wilson, of Opihikao, and 55-year-old Michael Brant, of Pahoa on suspicion of second-degree theft.
Big Island officers also used a police warrant to recover the stole equipment, some of which was damaged. At 3:20 p.m. on Friday, police charged Wilson with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree theft, and single counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, second-degree criminal property damage, and fourth-degree criminal property damage.
Upon investigation, officers determined that Brant was not the one who threatened the victims with a handgun. The theft charge was upgraded to a class B felony because it happened in an emergency area. Wilson is currently in police custody on $42,250 bail.
He is expected to appear in Puna District Court on Monday.
Police are also asking for the public's help in identifying the gunman. The suspect is described as a 210-pound, 6-foot white man with a long beard. He was last seen wearing a black shirt, and shorts.
Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department's non-emergency line at 808-935-3311 or Detective William Brown at 808-961-2384.
This story may be updated.