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Victims of Reported Assault at Kehena Beach Asking for Witnesses to Come Forward

By Tom Hasslinger
June 21, 2022, 5:00 PM HST
* Updated June 21, 3:21 PM
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One of the two black eyes one of the victims suffered. Courtesy photo

A man who says he and his partner were assaulted at a Pāhoa beach park during mid-afternoon in front of multiple onlookers is asking for witnesses to come forward to help police find the reported assailants.

The 47-year-old man said he was holding his 5-year-old son in his arms when he was punched  by one of the alleged assailants in the side of the head, a knock which left his head ringing for days.

“I was like, are you kidding me? I’m holding my son,” the reported victim said.

The incident occurred around 5:15 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at the Kehena Beach parking lot. The couple was going for a walk to the state beach park not too far from their home. It was then they noticed a group of five individuals yelling and berating a woman, described as pregnant and around 40 years old, who occasionally sets up a stand to sell items, the man said.

The man’s wife, age 46, walking slightly ahead of her partner and the boy, tried to deescalate the situation, he said.

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One of the women from the group of five hit the peacemaking mother in the face, “a sucker punch,” knocking her to the ground, where the group proceeded to kick and punch at her while she was on the ground, the man described.

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“I screamed and yelled at them to get off,” he said, adding the group was yelling and swearing at the woman while they did so.

The man ran with his son in his arms to the affray to pull his partner out. That was when a local male the victim estimated to be in his mid 40s punched him in the head.

He managed to pull his partner out of the fray.

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“We ran all the way home,” he said. “I kept saying, don’t turn around, don’t look back.”

“It all happened so fast,” he added.

The man didn’t want to give his full name for publication for fear of retaliation from the at-large assailants. Big Island Now knows his identity. The Hawai‘i Police Department stated that it is investigating an incident that happened at the park at that time period where a woman was struck following a verbal argument, but could not comment on the matter any more.

Big Island Now submitted a records request to the department for a copy of the 911 call on Tuesday. As outlined by statute, the department has up to 10 days to respond to such requests.

The victim, who has lived on island since 2014, said his partner suffered two black eyes, a concussion and a swollen jaw. 

“She can barely open her mouth. I’ve been feeding her soup,” he said.

He also said multiple people were around and witnessed the incident, one of whom made the 911 call, but nobody did anything to intervene. He’s asking for those witnesses to come forward and help police nab the alleged culprits, who they described as buggy-eyed, drooling, zombie-like with a scary look on their faces “as though they were on some type of drug.”

The man’s son wasn’t harmed during the incident, but has been traumatized and can’t sleep well since, he said. The couple hasn’t left their house since that night out of fear, as they live not far from the beach and worry that the assailants might have seen to where the couple fled. 

“They were ruthless,” he said.

He said they are trying to find the humor in it to help with the stress they’ve endured. The couple doesn’t eat meat due to the sensitivity they hold for animal lives.

“It’s hilarious,” he said. “A couple of vegans got beat up.”

But they also learned a lesson, he added. Next time, instead of trying to play peacemaker, they’d just call police right away.

The police department stated that tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may always call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 808-961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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