Kumu hula Iwalani Walsh Tseu would like some aloha for the new year, after being robbed at gunpoint in her Mililani home on New Year’s Eve.
Walsh Tseu, 67, said four men with guns jumped over her back yard wall Sunday evening around 6:30 and took possibly near $1 million worth of jewelry, some of which has been passed down in her family for generations.
“It was not a good way to start a new year,” she said.
Tseu’s family is offering a $10,000 reward for information that results in prosecution, and is hoping that someone in the community will provide helpful information on who is responsible.
“We need to take back our communities,” said daughter Tatiana Tseu Fox. “We’re saddened that our community has come to this.”
Walsh Tseu was at home getting ready to go out to see family and friends when she heard a shriek from her youngest daughter, Miss Hawaii USA 2009 Aureana Tseu who was visiting from Japan. Emerging from the bathroom, Walsh Tseu said she encountered what at first she thought might be a practical joke.
A masked man had her daughter face down on the ground with her hands tied with a surfboard leash and a pillow over her head. A second man with a gun aimed it at Walsh Tseu.
“I am running out of the bathroom in my robe to a gun pointed at my face,” she recalled. It was no joke. The man, Walsh Tseu said, demanded to know where money and jewelry were in the house.
Walsh Tseu is known for wearing big pieces of jewelry, and at first resisted. “He kept pushing the gun up against my head,” she recalled, adding that the man confronting her called her aunty but gestured to the bangs of fireworks outside and said: “You see that? No one will know the difference (between the sound of fireworks and a gunshot). We have no problem to shoot you. Don’t play dumb. This is not a random robbery.”
Walsh Tseu said the gunman pushed her down, tied her up using a phone charger cord, then ransacked the house and found drawers filled with jewelry including Hawaiian bracelets, black pearls, emeralds and more. She thinks the four men, who came into the house quietly through the back yard over a wall that abuts Kamehameha Highway, may have spent around 30 minutes in the house, all while Aureana Tseu’s husband was out in the driveway unaware of what was going on inside. Then she heard a whistle, and the men fled out the back door and over the wall to what she suspects was a waiting car.
Police and CrimeStoppers are asking for the public’s help in locating the four suspects. Anyone with tips can call the Honolulu Police Department or CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME from a cell phone.
CrimeStoppers released these descriptions of the four males:
>> 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, wearing a black hoodie, black pants, and a black ski mask, and carrying a shotgun.
>> 6 feet tall, 170 pounds, wearing dark clothing and a black ski mask with a white skull.
>> 5 feet 10 inches tall, 180 pounds, with a black hoodie, black pants, and a mask.
>> wearing dark clothing and a mask.
Walsh Tseu said she is grateful that no one was hurt, including Aureana Tseu’s cousin who was in a cottage on the property and also detained by the gunmen. But she is unsettled thinking that someone seems to have targeted her in her home where she has lived for about 40 years and would steal from a kupuna who has given much to the community.
“These people need aloha in their life,” Tseu Fox said of the perpetrators. “If you’re family is going through hard times, there’s better ways to go than this. They need help. I pray for them.”
It was one of four armed robberies on New Year’s Eve in Honolulu reported to police.
Two men in Waianae reported being robbed at 10 p.m. by male suspects who fled in a vehicle, according to police.
In Kalihi, HPD reported that a male suspect robbed a convenience store at 2:35 a.m. on Dec. 31 and fled on foot.
Another convenience store robbery occurred near midnight on Dec. 31 in Waikiki, and police arrested a 24-year-old woman about two hours later.