String of violent crimes in state’s no. 1 tourist destination puts many on edge

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2021 at 12:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police are investigating a string of violent crimes in the heart of Hawaii’s tourist district.

On Tuesday night alone, a man was pummeled during a robbery by a suspect armed with an ice pick while another man was nearly killed in a brutal knife attack.

Both crimes happened on the same block — at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Ohua Street near St. Augustine Catholic Church.

“I want to say I’m shocked but unfortunately it’s what’s happening in Waikiki nowadays,” said Chris Viverita.

The Waikiki resident says it’s to the point his family’s changed their routine.

“We don’t go out at night,” he said. “It’s sad.”

About 10 p.m. Tuesday, a man sitting on a bench outside the Burger King on Kalakaua Avenue and Ohua Street was punched in the face by a stranger demanding money.

The 45-year-old ran inside a nearby restaurant to get away.

Law enforcement sources say the suspect followed him, pulled out an ice pick and threatened to kill him and a manager at the eatery who tried to intervene.

The suspect fled before police arrived.

About two hours later, on the same block, sources say a 55-year-old was stabbed eight times in the chest, back and arm outside St. Augustine Catholic Church in what may have been a case of mistaken identity.

Sources say before the attack the suspect asked the victim if his name was Joe. When he said no, the suspect accused him of lying and started slashing.

“It’s becoming a routine thing,” said Robert Finley, chair of Waikiki’s Neighborhood Board.

He said the coronavirus pandemic has made crime in the area worse.

“Because the state took action to prevent COVID by releasing some prisoners. And the prosecution has not been putting people away,” Finley said.

Jury trials and grand jury proceedings only just resumed last week after being paused since mid-August due to the latest coronavirus surge.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Supreme Court stopped its release of certain low-level prisoners back in April. However, individual detainees are still able to file motions with the court for release due to COVID.

Honolulu’s also short upwards of 300 police officers.

“Seeing more homeless. More aggressive homeless. More drug addicts and less police presence,” Viverita said. Finley added, “When people get away with criminal activity time and time again it elevates.”

HPD confirms no arrests have been made in either of Tuesday night’s crimes.

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