Suspect accused of murdering woman steps from police substation had just been released from cellblock
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The suspect accused of murdering an apparent stranger steps from Kapolei police station Tuesday night had just been released from custody, authorities said.
Interim Police Chief Rade Vanic told Honolulu police commissioners the attack happened shortly after the suspect walked out of the cellblock.
“He was arrested the day before ... (and) was being held at the police station. Charges were not filed so we released him pending investigation,” Vanic said, at a meeting Wednesday.
“Very shortly after release, he committed this murder.”
Honolulu police records identified the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Kalama Armstrong.
The identity of the 48-year-old victim was not released.
And Vanic said the victim and suspect do not appear to have known each other.
Officials said the attack happened around 7 p.m., just feet from the front doors of the police station. The victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition, and later pronounced dead.
Police sources told Hawaii News Now that the suspect’s weapon was a tree trunk.
He had been arrested Monday night for assaulting a police officer. The officer was responding to a call that Armstrong had assaulted a worker at a halfway house.
“I heard a lot of yelling, unusual yelling for that time of night,” said Kristin Kobayashi, who checked her Ring security camera, which showed HPD cars at the halfway house across the street.
Armstrong was arrested for felony assault on a law enforcement officer, but authorities confirmed he was released after the city Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge him.
“It’s outrageous,” said Robert Cavaco, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
“The message to the public should be if you assault a police officer you go to jail. Not assault a police officer, get out of jail, commit more crimes,” Cavaco said.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the city Prosecutor’s Office said the suspect was released Tuesday night rather than charged with a felony because more information was needed.
“We did not want to immediately charge Armstrong with a misdemeanor because he would have gone to court the next day and likely pled guilty, which would have foreclosed us from later charging him with felony assault of the HPD officer,” city Prosecutor Steve Alm said, in the statement.
“As is routinely done when more investigation is needed on felony charges, HPD and the Department agreed that Armstrong would be released pending that further investigation.”
Cavaco disagreed with the decision.
“They made a decision to release this dangerous person,” he said.
Armstrong has 18 prior arrests for crimes including weapons possession and burglary. He has a long history of mental illness related offenses.
A doctor reported in a previous evaluation that he “was exhibiting bizarre and dangerous behavior”. Armstrong had “fashioned a dangerous bladed instrument out of a boar’s jawbone”.
The doctor also warned, he was “a threat to others and cannot be safely managed in the community”.
Armstrong has been in and out of the State Hospital and community treatment since 2007.
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