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Panel reviews bar’s license after fatal shooting

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Makuola K. Collins, top, appeared in court yesterday on charges of shooting Joel Botelho, who was a boyhood friend and fellow football team member.
  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Members of Botelho’s family attended the arraignment.
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The Honolulu Liquor Commission is looking into whether a Kaneohe bar’s liquor license should be revoked now that it has been linked to two killings in the last two years, the commission’s acting administrator said.

The latest incident happened Sunday, when an altercation that began at Club Komo Mai ended with the fatal shooting of Joel Botelho, 27, of Kaneohe, in a nearby neighborhood.

Makuola K. Collins, 26, also of Kaneohe, has been charged in Botelho’s murder. Collins made his initial court appearance yesterday, where a judge set a preliminary hearing for Monday. Collins is being held in lieu of $750,000 bail.

In 2008, the commission placed Club Komo Mai on six months ‘ probation and fined it $2,000 for serving liquor to Steven Wilcox, 19, just before Wilcox was stabbed to death in the bar’s parking lot in June 2008.

Since Club Komo Mai’s probation ended on Feb. 26, 2009 , "they’ve been off the radar," said Anna Hirai, the commission’s acting administrator. "But the place has had some history in the past and now something has happened again."

Early Sunday morning Botelho, a former star quarterback and point guard for Castle High School’s football and basketball teams, was gunned down in front of his parents’ Kaneohe home after his younger brother got into a fight at the bar with Collins, a boyhood friend, a police affidavit said.

Botelho’s younger brother, Leon "Bubba" Botelho, told detectives that he and Joel were drinking at the bar about 3 a.m. Sunday when he got into an "altercation" with Collins, the affidavit said.

The bar’s bouncers escorted the two men outside, and Collins drove off with his friends while the brothers drove to their parents’ home, where Joel was shot, the affidavit said.

Club Komo Mai has a "cabaret-class license," Hirai said, meaning it can be remain open from 10 a.m. until 4 a.m.

The bar’s owner, Ann Kaauamo, could not be reached for comment. The attorney who represented her in the 2008 liquor commission case said he had not been retained and had no comment.

The bar is in Kaneohe Shopping Center on Kamehameha Highway, adjacent to a fire station and across from the police department’s Kaneohe substation, "which makes it ironic," said Myles Yamamoto, a member of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.

"It’s in the heart of what a lot of us would consider the center of town," Yamamoto said. "With two incidents that turn into someone losing their lives, something is going on."

City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who represents Windward Oahu, welcomed the commission’s investigation.

"I hope Komo Mai’s management would get with the program and step up their own security, as many other liquor establishments do," Anderson said. "Ultimately, they need to be responsible for their patrons."

Since he took office in May 2009, Anderson said, he has received "one or two complaints" about "physical altercations that take place at the establishment. … I’m very interested as to what the commission comes up with."

Joel Botelho and Collins both grew up on Waikalua Road, had often been classmates since Kapunahala Elementary School, started together on Castle’s football team and graduated in 2002, said a classmate who asked not to be identified.

"They weren’t good friends. They were great friends," said Castle’s quarterback coach, Afton Smith, who lives in the neighborhood.

Collins was 5 feet 9 inches and just 150 pounds when he played linebacker for the Knights and "was a super kid," said Harry Paaga, who was Collins’ position coach.

"He always did what he was told and more," Paaga said. "He never answered back, never grumbled. He had a great attitude and was a great player who played to his fullest."

Paaga was still in shock yesterday that Collins has been charged with murdering his former teammate, neighbor and boyhood friend.

"It’s real tragic," Paaga said. "I still can’t believe this happened."

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Star-Advertiser reporter Gregg K. Kakesako contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: Family members of alleged killer Makuola Collins attended his initial court appearance on Wednesday. A caption earlier identified them as family members of shooting victim Joel Botelho.

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