HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two men and a woman were sent to the hospital overnight after a shooting in Ewa Beach. The suspect remains on the loose.
Honolulu Police say it happened in an illegal game room on Hanakahi Street. No arrests have been made.
Violence from illegal gambling rooms has been a growing concern. There are now proposals moving forward to pass stiffer laws against those who operate them.
State lawmakers say shootings, like the one in Ewa Beach, are happening all too often, which is why it’s important for HPD to crack down on illegal gambling houses.
“These establishments lead to murder and often gun violence is not unusual,” said Sen. Maile Shimabukuro. “On the west side there are so many. It just happened in Ewa but in my district as well of Waianae.”
She says she’s received so many complaints from residents in her district. This is why she introduced a proposal to increase the penalty for those who operate the game rooms from a misdemeanor to a felony if they commit two offenses within 10 years.
Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm says it would be a good deterrent.
“If somebody knows they could become a felon and then you’re on probation for four years, you have a lot of rules to follow,” said Alm. “If you don’t follow them you could end up at Halawa prison. That may deter people from getting involved in that kind of activity.”
He adds that right now the punishment is just too lenient.
“They end up going to court and eventually pleading guilty and get a $50 fine added to a record as long as your arm. And there was absolutely no deterrence for that,” said Alm.
Shimabukuro says the proposal also applies to the owner of the property where the game rooms are held.
“If this keeps as a repeated problem, law enforcement keeps having to come to this particular house, you as the property owner and whoever the high reps are, should be aware or at least should have been aware, and can be held accountable as well,” said Shimabukuro.
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Alm says property owners can also face other penalties such as not being able to rent out the property for a year. He has filed complaint against a McCully property owner in what he calls a test case. If the courts agree, he says he can apply it to other gambling cases.