A retired Marine said he and his wife witnessed the assault of state Rep. Tom Brower in Kakaako on Monday.
“It was a coordinated, gang-style attack,” said the Kaneohe resident, who requested their names not be published because they fear for their safety. “After witnessing that, I can’t even imagine being around there around dusk. This was basically broad daylight.”
The witness told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he saw Brower running and yelling for help with his hands in the air being chased by a group of people he described as teens. One of the people chasing Brower was on a bicycle, he said.
The resident said he didn’t know the victim was an elected official and didn’t see what prompted the incident, which the couple witnessed as they were leaving the Children’s Discovery Center.
Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako) was assaulted on Monday at about 4:30 p.m. while taking photos of a large homeless encampment. The lawmaker was transported by paramedics to the Queen’s Medical Center, where he was treated and released after suffering a laceration near his right eye, facial swelling, bruised ribs and scrapes on his leg and left hand.
He has been accused by members of the encampment of provoking the attack by laughing at two homeless teen-agers as he filmed their tents — an accusation he denies.
The incident has turned a spotlight on a growing homeless problem in Kakaako, which is experiencing a huge influx of people living in tents on the sidewalk — from 65 in mid-September to 183 this week, according to data collected for homeless service providers. Some homeless people have been drawn to Kakaako after leaving Waikiki and Chinatown as the city has enforced its “sit-lie” and stored property laws in those areas.
The Marine, 52, said his wife called the state Attorney General’s office Wednesday concerning the assault and spoke to an investigator. He said she was upset after the call because she felt the attorney general’s office dismissed the incident like it was just “adolescent stupidity.”
The man criticized the government for failing to recognize problems in Kakaako. He described the encampment as an out-of-control community. “They’re not just lawless. They have their own law.”
He said he and his wife were about 15 to 20 feet away from where Brower was assaulted.
He said when Brower ran to the front of the Discovery Center, a group of about 10 people enveloped him — creating somewhat of a semi-circle as he was trying to get away. “They were blocking him to the point where he had nowhere to escape.”
“He was completely defenseless. He had his hands up,” said the Kaneohe resident.
A teenager, about 16 to 18 years old, tackled Brower into bushes to the right of the center and assaulted him, he said, describing the teen as about 5-foot-8 inches and about 220 pounds.
“At least one female was egging it on,” said the witness. “I was in shock.”
Children were exiting the center when the assault occurred, he said. “I think everybody was scared,” he said.