POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 26, 2011
Kailua residents and parents of Windward students remained on edge after three schools were locked down yesterday afternoon because of a massive manhunt for a possibly armed robbery suspect who remained on the loose last night.
"That's not a very good feeling if they haven't caught the guy," said Kailua resident Carolyn Farris, who locked herself inside after learning police had been pursuing the getaway car on Auloa Road, where she lives. "It's kind of a creepy feeling, especially at night when there's no lights. It's pitch black out here. Somebody ought to be out in this area patrolling."
Police said they still had not caught the suspect, a man in his 20s and unknown to police, who allegedly robbed a Hawaii Kai recycling center field buyer at gunpoint.
Police launched an intensive search with four police SWAT teams, search dogs, a helicopter, the officers from the Windward District and Crime Reduction Units from two other districts, with officers guarding the perimeter of the search area.
But after an hour, police ceased their search efforts; lifted the lockdowns at Le Jardin Academy, Trinity Christian School, Hawaii Pacific University's Hawaii Loa campus and at a day care at Castle Medical Center; and reopened roadways.
"This is kind of dangerous," said Karin Ganote, 70, who was picking up her grandchildren at Trinity Christian. "I'm really concerned, but this is the first time anything like this has happened."
Police Capt. Nyle Dolera of the Windward District said officers and dogs searched the trails through heavy brush. "It's easy to hide under the brush," he said. "They could be hiding under there for a while. After an hour we decided it was enough time, and like I said, the traffic was stopped for over an hour. ... We did a thorough search as best we could."
Dolera said the suspect had been spotted both from the air and on land and stripped off the white T-shirt he was wearing.
At about 9 a.m. yesterday, two men, one of whom brandished a .38-caliber revolver, robbed a Reynolds Recycling field buyer at its Kalama Valley location and fled in a 2009 black Mazda sedan carrying two other men and a woman.
The car was spotted on Kalanianaole Highway in Waimanalo, and police issued an all-points bulletin.
Officers pursued the Mazda up Kalanianaole Highway to Castle Junction, where the Mazda turned down Auloa Road.
Workers on Auloa said police engaged in a high-speed chase along the narrow, winding road.
The car was abandoned along Auloa, and police captured three men, ages 32, 27 and 39, and a woman, 20, at 11:15 a.m. and arrested them for first-degree robbery, Dolera said.
The 39-year-old, who is associated with the Mazda on traffic court records, has a burglary conviction. The 27-year-old also was arrested on a probation violation, and the woman was also arrested on drug violations.
Dolera said yesterday no weapon was recovered, but a search warrant was being sought for the vehicle.
One of the suspects fled on foot through the thick brush and bolted across Kalanianaole Highway and into the heavy brush between Le Jardin Academy on Kapaa Quarry Road and Castle Junction near Hawaii Pacific University, police said.
Police completely shut down the highway at 11 a.m. in both directions between Castle Junction and Kapaa Quarry Road, and called for a lockdown of Le Jardin, Trinity Christian School's mauka campus, Hawaii Pacific University's Hawaii Loa campus and a day care center at Castle Medical Center.
Chris Jamila was not sure she would be sending her 9-year-old daughter back to Trinity Christian School today.
"We haven't decided yet," she said last night. "We're going to watch the 10 o'clock news," adding the principal is good about making decisions.
"Of course we were scared and worried for our daughter," she said. "The school did a good job at informing us."
Police urge anyone who sees anyone suspicious to call 911 and not to approach the suspect, who might be armed.