Latest stabbing of servicemember intensifies scrutiny over Waikiki crime
By ALLISON SCHAEFERS | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: March 3, 2018
HONOLULU, Hawaii (Tribune News Service) — Concerns about serious crime are growing after the third stabbing of a young military man in Waikiki since October, one fatal.
The 25-year-old stabbed and left in serious condition Thursday was visiting Hawaii from New York and was attacked on Nohonani Street between 3:30 and 3:50 a.m. by two suspects he reportedly did not know.
"This was a case of unprovoked violence. He had money and credit cards, but the men who brutally stabbed him and punched his face didn't take his valuables," said Jessica Lani Rich, president and CEO of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, which offers assistance to tourists in distress.
Rich said the victim told her that he had been out with a friend but ended up alone after his friend left with a woman.
"Between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., it's a dangerous time to be walking alone in Waikiki," said Rich. "We need to make Waikiki safe at all hours."
Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu said police found the the victim in the Honolulu Zoo parking lot at about 4 a.m. He had a stab wound above his pelvis and facial lacerations and contusions, and was taken in serious condition to a hospital. Police opened an attempted murder investigation and are searching for suspects.
There have been two other attacks on members of the military just a few streets from Nohonani.
On Oct. 6 a 21-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier was beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed repeatedly. A 14-year-old boy was charged with second-degree assault in connection with the attack, which happened near the intersection of Lewers Street and Kalakaua Avenue in the early morning hours.
A 16-year-old male was charged in October with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Sgt. William H. Brown, a 23-year-old Kaneohe-based Marine who was stabbed multiple times following a 1 a.m. altercation at the corner of Royal Hawaiian and Kalakaua avenues.
This latest act of violence comes at a time when Waikiki crime is under scrutiny. More than 200 Waikiki stakeholders, including law enforcement, military and judiciary personnel, turned out Tuesday for a Visitor Public Safety Conference, sponsored by the Hawaii Lodging &Tourism Association (HLTA) and Honolulu City Council member Trevor Ozawa.
An Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board issued a warning about Waikiki in December and will discuss Waikiki crime during its next meeting in a few weeks. Such boards have the power to place establishments off-limits to the military, which would mean approximately 10 percent of Oahu's population would be banned from patronizing parts of Waikiki.
"We gather statistics of our service members who are getting in trouble and advise commands of things that can detract from the health and safety and discipline of the armed forces," said Lt. Col. Ken Phillips, deputy director of Emergency Services at U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, who was a speaker at the Waikiki conference.
The military's December advisory singled out 13 potentially risky Waikiki establishments. It also estimated that there had been 1,000 arrests involving violent crimes or drugs and alcohol near the intersections of Kalakaua and Royal Hawaiian avenues and Kalakaua and Kapahulu avenues over 180 days.
Phillips said none of the establishments on the list have been placed off-limits but that the board would likely have "further discussions" about Waikiki crime.
"Hawaii in general is a low-crime area, but there is crime here," Phillips said. "Most of my concern is where our soldiers are getting into trouble after 2 a.m. downtown. How do we keep them out of trouble?"
Crime trends are going in the wrong direction, said Dave Moskowitz, a Waikiki resident of 20 years. According to HPD, there were 4,264 calls for service in January in Waikiki, an increase of nearly 4 percent over December. During that same period, assaults grew 3 percent to 33.
"I tell people not to be out after 11:30 p.m. It's not safe," Moskowitz said. "You can become a victim of a purse snatching or have your cellphone taken, or something much worse like what happened earlier this week."
Mufi Hannemann, HLTA president and CEO, said the conference steering committee will meet Wednesday to address this latest stabbing and other concerns.
"We'll look for the low-hanging fruit – things that we can implement immediately," Hannemann said. "We'll consider everything from proposing legislation and administrative rules to securing funding so that we can implement changes."
The committee likely will seek more security cameras for Waikiki and push for more police foot patrols, where officers can get real-time visibility of the beat, Hannemann said. Eliminating or limiting 4 a.m. cabaret liquor licenses also is a hot topic, he said.
Jerry Dolak, president of the Hawaii Hotel Visitor Industry Security Association, said late-night crowds coming out of cabaret establishments might not be safe.
"People with criminal intent know where the late-night places are and may see those patrons as easy marks," Dolak said.
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