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Police investigate latest attack on homeless man in Pahoa

HILO >> Authorities are investigating after a homeless man was attacked in the Big Island community of Pahoa while he slept in his wheelchair.

John Hartley says he awoke to his attacker splashing him with ice-filled water before he was sprayed in the face with Mace and punched multiple times. The June 7 incident was caught on surveillance video, though police said Monday they hadn’t yet identified a suspect.

Hartley said he was left blinded by the Mace for several days and that it “was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.”

“I don’t remember (the punches). I was in too much pain from the bear mace,” he said. “I tried to go sleep. But I couldn’t sleep. My face burned, and it just sucked. I just cried all night long.”

Multiple Pahoa residents told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that there have been similar assaults against homeless people in recent months.

Sarah Williams, with the Pahoa Village Museum, organized meetings earlier this year aimed at addressing the community’s homeless problem. She said the attack on Hartley, who had his right leg amputated two years ago, has united the community to help him seek justice.

“It’s really upsetting to the community,” Williams said. “And I thank God it’s so upsetting to them. I’ve been so impressed by the community dynamics, people wanting to have aloha and work together. It’s just one really violent hater in the mix that’s totally unsettling.”

Hartley said he is considering litigation and recently met with an attorney who said he would help seek monetary damages for the 57-year-old as well as anyone else who has been victimized by the suspect.

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  • People are mad like hell that the city is helpless to deal with the grhh!! of people defecating trashing stinking up the public and therefore vigilantism ist appearing. We cannot have vigilantes, rather we allow places to suffocate under trash like under the freeway viaduct.

    • Wow.

      You weren’t in line the day God handed out compassion I guess.

      (Oh, and maybe check your map. Pahoa isn’t Honolulu, as it turns out.)

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