Uptick in assaults around Ala Moana has many calling for action

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A brazen assault on Sunday, May 9, inside a women’s bathroom at Ala Moana Center adds to the growing number of assaults in the area.

There were almost 20 assault cases reported near the mall since Wednesday, April 14.

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More than half of the reported assaults occurred in broad daylight. Residents and lawmakers say more needs to be done to protect the public.

A 30-year-old woman was assaulted inside a women’s bathroom at Ala Moana Center around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The victim says she was washing her hands when a man walked into the bathroom and punched her in the face before walking out.

She says she never met the suspect before and neither of them said anything before he assaulted her. She has a broken nose and is shaken up, but says she is otherwise okay.

Ala Moana neighborhood board member Kathleen Lee says it is a big deal.

“I live literally across Ala Moana Center,” Lee said, “and I know, not just as a board member, but as a neighborhood resident, that does concern me.”

According to the Honolulu Police Department crimemapping website, assaults surrounding the Ala Moana Center have increased in the last six months. Only two assaults were reported within a half-mile of the shopping center from mid-November to mid-December of 2020. That number jumped to 12 in January 2021.

There was an increase of 16 reported assaults between mid-January to mid-February in 2021 . The number dipped slightly in March to 13 before rising again to 18. There were 17 reported assaults in the last four weeks.

“The numbers do fluctuate from month to month and likely reflect the reopening of businesses in the area,” HPD said in a statement. “Officers are continuing to patrol the Ala Moana and surrounding areas.”

Sen. Sharon Moriwaki says everyone needs to be on the same page in order to tackle the problem.

“The police are doing the best they can with whatever staffing they have to arrest,” Moriwaki said. “Then from arrest, to the prosecutor’s office, to the courts, they really need to be aligned. This is unacceptable. No matter how small the crime is, it should be prosecuted.”

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm released the following statement:

“The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney takes these assault cases very seriously. Now that the Hawaii Supreme Court has lifted its COVID-19 custody orders, judges again have the ability to set bail for defendants pending their trials. We have been asking judges to set bail for those who are violent, dangerous, or won’t stop stealing. This includes anyone arrested for assault in the Ala Moana area. Setting bail for these defendants is often the only way to assure that the public is protected from further violence.”

KHON2 reached out to Ala Moana Center for comment but has not received a response.

Jonah Kalima, the suspect in Sunday’s assault at the mall, was charged and is being held on $20,000 bail. His arraignment is on Monday, May 17.

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