Suspect charged in Hilo assault, robbery 02-22-05

PHONE: 961-2252
FEBRUARY 22, 2005


Big Island police have arrested two adult males and a juvenile male for an alleged assault and robbery late Sunday (February 20, 2005) on Coconut Island.

One adult has been charged and is being held on bail. The other adult and juvenile have been released pending further investigation by East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Section detectives.

At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday (February 22, 2005), police charged Curtis Nihipali, 19, of a Puna address, with second-degree robbery and illegal possession of a deadly weapon. Nihipali is being held in the Hilo police cellblock in lieu of $2,100 bail.

The other adult, identified as Harry Smith, also known as Travis Mendiola, 18, of a Puna address, and a 15-year-old boy were released pending further investigation.

All three were arrested after South Hilo patrol officers answered a call Sunday night. The officers determined that three adult males attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo and two juvenile male high school students visiting from Kona were on Coconut Island when they were allegedly approached by a group of eight males at 11:30 p.m. Members of the group assaulted the five and demanded the victims’ money and car keys, the victims told police.

About 11:55 p.m., responding officers apprehended the three suspects who later identified by the victims as being involved in the attack.

Nihipali, Smith and the juvenile were arrested for robbery.

Nihipali was also arrested for carrying a deadly weapon after police found a pair of “brass knuckles” on him at the time of his arrest.

Four of the victims were taken to the Hilo Medical Center for treatment of injuries sustained in the attack and later released. The fifth victim received only minor injuries and did not require medical attention.

Detectives have learned the identity of several of the other assailants who fled the area before the arrival of police. They are asking that anyone who may have witnessed the incident or knows the identities of those involved to call Detective Tom Poy of the East Hawaii CIS at 961-2383 or the police non-emergency number at 935-3311.

Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept strictly confidential.

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