Hawai'i State News

Video: Surveillance footage captures armed robbery at Black Lava Vape Kona

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Editor’s note: The surveillance footage below shows a suspect pointing a gun at a Black Lava Vape Kona employee and forcing her to open the register. Viewer discretion is advised.

Surveillance video at a local business in Kailua-Kona shows a 23-year-old woman terrorized after a man shoved a gun in a 23-year-old woman’s face, forcing her to open the cash register.

Video courtesy of Black Lava Vape Kona

The robbery occurred on Saturday at Black Lava Vape Kona, located at 75-5722 Hanama Place, at approximately 1:18 p.m.

“He strong-armed her,” said co-owner Patsy Anderson. “It was a very traumatizing situation for her. The video is chilling to watch that.”

Two Kailua-Kona men were arrested in connection to the incident.

Auston Aini, 39, of Kailua-Kona, was charged with several offenses including first-degree robbery, first-degree terroristic threatening, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, place to keep pistol or revolver, ownership or possession prohibited and second-degree terroristic threatening.


Through further investigation, Hawai‘i Island police were able to determine the identity of Aini and the vehicle, a 4-door sedan, that was used during this incident. Officers further determined that Aini did not act alone and that the driver of the vehicle, later identified as Rodney Kahele Jr., 25, also of Kailua-Kona, entered the store before Aini, looked around and left without purchasing anything.

When Kahele returned to the car, police say Aini then exited the vehicle, went into the store and committed the robbery. Both Aini and Kahele left the area within the vehicle.

Bob Anderson, co-owner of the business, said he and his wife were shopping at Costco when they got the call from their employee. They left their cart and went straight to the store.

“She didn’t call the cops; she was so terrified,” said Bob Anderson’s wife Patsy, adding she called Hawai‘i Island police. “I just told her to lock the door.”

Bob Anderson said the suspect left the store with $258 from the top drawer of the register and a collection box for Maui fire relief funds that had about $200.


Patsy Anderson said the surveillance cameras did a good job at clearly identifying the suspects and the vehicle they were driving as the men were ultimately located and arrested about a half hour later.

Following the robbery, officers determined that Aini resides at an apartment complex located on Manawalea Street in Kailua-Kona. Officers conducted checks in that area and located Aini in the above-mentioned vehicle. Aini was subsequently arrested for the robbery.

A short time later, officers located Kahele in an apartment belonging to his mother at the same complex. He was then also arrested for the robbery. However, it doesn’t appear charges have been filed at this time.

Three search warrants were executed on the apartments of Kahele and Aini and on a dark purple in color Mazda 6 four-door sedan where officers recovered clothing items matching the description of what the suspect was seen wearing during the robbery from within Aini’s apartment.

No firearm was recovered.


“Everything they did wasn’t thought out,” Patsy Anderson said.

Black Lava Vape opened in June 2013. Patsy Anderson said in the nearly 11 years since the store has been open this is their first robbery.

“You hear about stuff like that but you don’t think it will happen to you,” she said, adding she believes the crime was random.

Aini appeared in Kona District Court on Monday where a judge maintained bail at $323,000. He is slated to appear for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Anyone with information relative to this investigation is encouraged to call the police department’s non-emergency number at 808-935-3311. They may also contact Detective Len Hamakado at 808-326-4646, ext. 224; or via email at Len.hamakado@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at tiffany.demasters@pmghawaii.com.
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