Escapee, accomplice charged with variety of offenses 02-11-05

PHONE: 961-2251
FEBRUARY 11, 2005


Big Island police charged a Hawaii Community Correctional Center escapee and his accomplice Friday (February 11, 2005) with a number of offenses, including escape and being an accomplice to escape.

The two were captured Thursday at a cabin in Mauna Kea State Park.

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, police charged Winston Hoapili, 31, the escapee, with second-degree escape, second-degree robbery, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, first-degree theft and 13 traffic offenses. Hoapili, who also has a number of outstanding warrants against him, is being held at HCCC with no bail.

Hoapili’s accomplice, Helenamae Pang, 20, was charged with being an accomplice to escape, second-degree robbery, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and first-degree theft. Also having a number of outstanding warrants against her, she is being held at HCCC in lieu of $14,000 bail.

After receiving an anonymous tip Thursday, detectives from the East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Section, Vice Section and Criminal Intelligence Unit conducted surveillance of the park cabin.

As a result, a search warrant was obtained for the cabin, and because Hoapili has a history of violence and reportedly possibly armed, members of the department’s Special Response Team (SRT) were called in to execute the warrant.

Hoapili and Pang were arrested at 7:30 a.m. without incident.

No weapon was found, but officers recovered a stolen Toyota pickup truck.

Hoapili, who was jailed as a detainee pending trial for a variety of felony theft and drug offenses, escaped January 28, 2005, from HCCC guards while on being taken to a medical appointment. Hoapili jumped into a car driven by Pang that was parked at the Ponahawai Medical Clinic.

Four days later, Hoapili and Pang led South Hilo patrol officers on a high-speed chase after officers responded to a tip that the escapee was in the Keaukaha area. Hoapili and Pang were riding in a Mazda pickup truck when officers spotted the pair about 7 p.m. The couple commandeered the truck, kicked out the driver and sped away. Police chased the truck along Kalanianaole and Kamehameha Avenues from the Hilo Pier area to Waianuenue Avenue, when they called off the chase for safety reasons. The truck was later recovered in the Papaikou area.

The SRT, which captured the couple, is comprised of officers assigned to other full-time duties throughout the Police Department, and the unit is headed by a lieutenant. Team members have received specialized training in serving high-risk search warrants as well as training in other areas. Such groups are commonly known as SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactical) teams nationally. Service on the team is voluntary and in addition to regular assignments.

The members’ assistance in Thursday’s arrests was critical to the safe apprehension of the fugitives, according to Lieutenant Randall Medeiros, head of the East Hawaii CIS.

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