HCCC escapee, accomplice captured 02-10-05

PHONE: 961-2251
FEBRUARY 10, 2005

Photo of Winston Hoapili
Photo of Helenamae Pang
CAPTURED – HCCC escapee Winston Hoapili, 31, and his accomplice, Helenamae Pang, 20, were captured Thursday at a cabin in the Mauna Kea State Park.


Big Island police captured a Hawaii Community Correctional Center escapee and his accomplice Thursday (February 10, 2005) at the Mauna Kea State Park.

Police captured escapee Winston Hoapili, 31, and his accomplice, Helenamae Pang, 20, at a park cabin. The two are being held in the Hilo police cellblock pending investigation for escape and other charges.

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

As a result, a search warrant was obtained for the cabin, and because Hoapili has a history of violence and may have been armed, members of the department’s Special Response Team (SRT) executed 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 Hawaii Community Correctional Center 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 know 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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