Nāʻālehu family’s SUV shot by arrow in July

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The news about a woman being shot by a crossbow arrow earlier this week at Hāpuna Beach State Recreation Area on the west side of the Big Island hits close to home for Brenda Trowbridge and her family of five from Nāʻālehu.

Brenda Trowbridge at O Kaʻū Kakou Farmer’s Market in Nāʻālehu with her children, from left, 11-year-old Eden, 9-year-old Emeril and 7-year-old Ella. (Courtesy of Brenda Trowbridge)

On July 20, the driver’s side passenger door of the family’s silver Chevy Traverse also was shot at about 3 p.m. by an arrow while the SUV was parked on the mauka side of Māmalahoa Highway near the O Kaʻū Kakou Farmer’s Market in Nāʻālehu.

The arrow left a small puncture hole in the door but did not pierce all the way through. No one was injured.

Police said Friday afternoon that they do not think the two incidents — about 90 miles apart —are related.

For the incident on July 20, Trowbridge, her husband Ryan and their 11-year-old son Eden were tearing down their pop-up booth at the farmer’s market in preparation to go home. The family, which has lived on the Big Island for three years, owns a farm just outside Nāʻālehu where they grow Kaʻū coffee for their business Pōhaku Coffee.

There were only two or three other vendors still there when they heard a loud noise, almost like a bang. It didn’t sound like a gunshot, but it was alarming, catching the attention of everyone still at the market. Ryan Trowbridge walked about 25 feet to check the tires on their vehicle.


At the same time, they saw a large white truck driving by. Brenda Trowbridge thought the truck might have run into or over something.

About 30 minutes later, Ryan Trowbridge went to the Nāʻālehu Post Office to pick up the family’s mail and noticed what looked like a bullet hole in the driver’s side passenger door.

“I kind of just went quiet, like, whoa, what just happened?” Brenda Trowbridge said about learning this discovery by her husband.

She added she was shocked by the incident happening in “this sweet little town.”

They called the police and several officers responded. They disassembled the door, but couldn’t find a bullet. The officers left their contact information with the family in case they found something later.

  • A view of the puncture hole left by an arrow shot at the Trowbridge family’s SUV on July 20 in Nāʻālehu. (Courtesy of Ryan Trowbridge)
  • A closer view of the puncture hole left by an arrow shot at the Trowbridge family’s SUV on July 20 in Nāʻālehu. (Courtesy of Ryan Trowbridge)
  • A picture of the arrow that punctured the driver’s side passenger door of the Trowbridge family’s SUV on July 20 in Nāʻālehu. (Courtesy of Ryan Trowbridge)
  • A close-up picture of the tip of the arrow that punctured the driver’s side passenger door of the Trowbridge family’s SUV on July 20 in Nāʻālehu. (Courtesy of Ryan Trowbridge)

Police said they would continue to look into the incident, but Brenda Trowbridge was restless. She suggested they go back to the post office to see if they could find anything. Nothing turned up there, so they decided to return to where the SUV had been parked to take another look.

That’s when they found the arrow.

“It had a little tip of our silver paint,” she said. “So we thought this is obviously it.”

An officer came back out and took the arrow as evidence. The family hasn’t heard any updates about the investigation.

The Trowbridges are glad no one got hurt, but the incident definitely shook the family’s matriarch, who also has two other kids, 7-year-old Ella and 9-year-old Emeril.


“My children usually play or wait in the car during the market day,” she said. “We’re a home-schooler family and they’re with me, helping. I’m just glad nobody was sitting there.”

Brenda Trowbridge said the family went through a range of emotions for the next couple of weeks. It wasn’t until a few days later that it started to sink in for 7-year-old Ella.

“She went and she asked her daddy, ‘Daddy, what if I had been sitting there?'” Brenda Trowbridge said. “It just breaks your heart that my little 7-year-old has to think about this.”

They can only speculate about why it happened, who did it and whether it was aimed directly at them or a random act of violence.

But they have tried to get answers, which has included researching arrow types. Brenda Trowbridge said the one that hit the family’s vehicle appears to be a Victory Armour Piercing arrow.

The family was still nervous returning to the market the week after the incident. The family of the girl who helps the Trowbridges at the market also now is not comfortable letting her go to the truck to get items from the cooler.

But Brenda Trowbridge refuses to give into fear or be intimidated. She hopes the person behind the July 20 incident and the one this week at Hāpuna beach, in which a woman was struck in her bicep while walking to her car, are found.

“Again, we’re just grateful that we’re OK and I’m glad that the lady wasn’t seriously injured, but what a world we are living in right now, right?” Brenda Trowbridge said.

Ryan Trowbridge looks at an arrow that was shot at his family’s SUV on July 20 while it was parked near the O Kaʻū Kakou Farmer’s Market in Nāʻālehu. (Courtesy of Brenda Trowbridge)
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at
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