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Amid spike in crime, prosecutor seeks stricter rules for probation violators

Court documents show the man suspected in an attack that left a security guard in critical condition this week was a fugitive who was supposed have been jail.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 4:44 PM HST|Updated: May. 5, 2022 at 8:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Court documents show the man suspected in an attack that left a security guard in critical condition this week was a fugitive who was supposed have been jail.

Armin Baertsch remained locked up Thursday facing attempted murder charges.

The attack is the latest in a rash of violent crimes involving repeat offenders.

City Prosecutor Steve Alm called the issue disturbing, and said a big part of the problem is there is oftentimes no consequences for people who violate their probation.

On Tuesday, a large pool of blood soaked the brick walkway outside Pioneer Plaza, where the attack occurred. Witnesses say Baertschi was causing problems on the property about 5:30 p.m.

When a security guard asked him to leave, the suspect allegedly hit him in the head with a stainless steel water bottle ― knocking him out and causing him to fall face-first to the ground.

HNN has learned the 58-year-old was rushed to the hospital in critical condition with multiple skull and face fractures.

Those who know the security guard said he has always treated people with respect.

“Whenever I saw or interacted with him he was always courteous and kind,” said John Fielding.

Fielding says he occasionally bumped into the victim while conducting patrols around his church a couple blocks away.

He says since the pandemic, crime along Fort Street Mall has gotten worse and that oftentimes it’s the same culprits responsible.

“If they can get away with 10 to 15 crimes and still be out here to harm or even kill a person, something’s wrong here,” Fielding said.

According to court records, Baertschi has bounced in and out of lock-up for more than a decade.

He was convicted of felony drug charges, trespassing and theft and sentenced to probation in 2016 and again in 2019. Another warrant was issued Monday after he missed multiple drug tests.

It appears he’d been on the run for some time.

“There have to be certain consequences for misbehavior,” Alm said.

He said he believes repeat offenders who commit violent crimes need to be sent to prison.

As for those who are convicted of lower level offenses, he says probation needs to be more strict.

He said right now a lot of people are getting off too easy.

“It needs to go back to the model that was developed where there’s a jail consequence for every violation of probation. And that’s not happening now,” he said.

“Now, they test positive for drugs and they leave. They’re allowed to leave.”

Alm said he’d also like to see warrants issued immediately if someone skips a meeting with their parole officer so they can be arrested.

He said talks are underway with the Judiciary to address the issue.

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