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Shooting suspect 'needs help,' church elder says after hearing

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 5:56 p.m. HST, Jun 6, 2011

The 28-year-old Wahiawa man who allegedly went on a 17-minute freeway shooting spree Friday, killing a mother of 10 and injuring two others, will be given a preliminary hearing in District Court Wednesday on 15 felony counts including murder, attempted murder and firearms charges.

Toby Stangel, who is being held on $5 million bail, made his initial court appearance this morning before District Judge Leslie Hayashi. He faces second-degree murder charges in the death of 54-year-old Tammy Nguyen, who was the mother of 10. He was also charged with seven counts of attempted murder and various firearms violations.

Wounded during Friday's shootings were 24-year-old Amie Lou Asuncion of Kalihi and 38-year-old Samson Naupoto of Salt Lake, who are recovering in hospitals. Five others were shot at but weren't injured.

Today's court hearing was attended by about a half dozen members of the North Shore Christian Fellowship led by Bob Prasser, a church elder and a retired assistant chief with the Honolulu Police Department. Friends, including Stangel's girlfriend, were also there.

Stangel, who made no statement, was represented by Chad Enoki, a public defender.

Joseph Poloa, who knew Stangel since they were seventh-graders at Waialua Intermediate School, said he was shocked when he learned that Stangel was involved in the highway shooting. "I called everybody and nobody answered," he said after the hearing.

The two also attended Waialau High School, but Stangel never graduated and was home schooled, Prasser said.

Prasser said Stangel, who spent the weekend in a Honolulu Police Department cellblock on Beretania street unable to post bail, looked "terrible."

He expressed the hope that Stangel would get "treatment while in custody."

However, Prasser acknowledged that he wasn't close to the defendant and doesn't know if he had any mental or health problems.

"He's still family. He needs help," Prasser said after the hearing.

He said that Stangel's parents will spend the week in Murietta in Southern California, where they will attend a pastors' conference.

Mike Stangel is the senior pastor of the North Shore Christian Fellowship congregation, which Prasser said includes 400 adults and 200 children.

Prasser, who said he is in "constant contact" with Stangel's parents, said their condition is "not good."

But because, "We're Christians, we all rely on God," Prasser added.

Stangel's girlfriend sat in the back of the seventh floor District Court room comforted by her mother during the hearing.

Police say the shooting spree appeared to be random, with none of the victims knowing the suspect.

It began at 12:43 a.m. Friday when Stangel got out of his car, walked up to vehicles stopped in an intersection and opened fire, according to police.

Nguyen, of Palolo, was shot to death in her van with her 16-year-old daughter sitting beside her. 

Stangel is accused of opening fire again about 10 minutes later on the H-1 freeway near the Houghtailing and Likelike Highway exits, shooting Asuncion twice in the shoulder. Naupoto was shot when he stopped to help her.

Police say a short while later the gunman fired at two police officers who were conducting a traffic stop but no one was hurt.

Stangel was arrested after he was spotted in his BMW, which was stopped, at about 1 a.m. on the freeway in Aiea, police said.

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