HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police are trying to track down a homeless woman who allegedly attacked a volunteer taking part in a beach clean-up over the weekend at Oneula Park.
Witnesses say it was completely unprovoked.
It may have been a case of mistaken identity but no one knows for sure.
Penny Parnes was picking up trash Sunday morning when she was punched in the cheek by a woman who she says appeared to be intoxicated.
Moments later, she took to social media to put out a warning.
“I’m not sure if you can see this bump on the left side of my face,” she said. “Kind of nuts. This has gone on way too long. Something needs to be done about this.”
It was day two of a park clean-up. Volunteers had just finished loading bags of rubbish into a container when Parnes says she heard someone behind her.
“At that point she stood up and started swinging and said you’re the four letter word that starts with a 'c' that’s causing all this trouble for us," she said.
Witnesses say when Parnes didn’t fall after she was hit, the woman lunged towards a bag ― and reached inside.
"She actually told Penny she was going to stab her. That she had a knife,” said Louis Galdeira.
Parnes said, “I took her bag. Because that seemed like the safest thing to do.”
For years, the area ― also known as Hau Bush ― has been plagued by drugs and violence. Just last month, a 15-year-old was hospitalized after being stabbed in the stomach there.
The ongoing problems have prompted calls for a nighttime closure of the popular park. It’s a move some illegal campers see as a threat.
“They’re angry that regular people are standing up and taking back their park,” said Councilwoman Kymberly Pine.
It wasn’t until police were called that the woman in the attack took off running.
Although the violent encounter left Parnes cheek a little swollen, she’s not discouraged, vowing to volunteer in future clean-ups.
“I can’t give up on it,” said Parnes. “And I don’t think that anyone who truly cares about it ever would.”
Pine says she wants the park closed from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Those who fish would still be allowed.
“We’re working as a community. We’re going to revitalize this park," she said.
A community meeting to discuss the matter is set for Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Kapolei Hale.