Deadly stabbing on Maui prompts mall management to increase security

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More than a month after a fatal stabbing at a mall on Maui, the center’s management says it is increasing security measures.

On March 18, Alejandro Cerezo was stabbed to death in a bathroom at Queen Kaahumanu Center.

Mall tenants reached out to KHON2 saying they had security concerns even before the tragedy occurred.

Records show that the argument between Cerezo and the suspect, Kumulipo Sylva, started on the bus.

One of the main things management wants to do is have a security guard constantly on duty at the main bus stop to the mall while the buses are running. The change would require county approval.

“We believe we can have somebody on site there just for the transit hub during the hours of operation from 5:30 until 9:30 at night when the last bus leaves,” said Kevin Jones, Pendulum Property Partners.

Management also wants to start some type of neighborhood watch among tenants to keep everyone informed of suspicious activities. 

“It was an unforeseeable event. Even Maui PD was discussing this morning, you can’t stop everything,” Jones said.

Jones says security guards will also get training from the Maui Police Department in dealing with people who have mental health problems.

Management met with the tenants Tuesday morning to let them know about the improvements. Reaction was mixed.

“Having somebody watch at night throughout the day and keep us informed, I think that would be the best thing,” said Kasey Carvalho, Forever 21 store manager.

“It’s one thing to say it and talk about it, but I’d like to see some implementation of these changes that they’re claiming are gonna happen, which have not happened,” said Daniel Norton, Village Home store owner.

Norton says he’d like to see the improvements done soon. He says his business has dropped 50 percent since the stabbing.

“It would be nice if the management would actually do what needs to be done to protect the patrons and the lessees. That’s reasonable, I think,” said Norton.

Cerezo’s family release the following statement in response to the proposed changes:

“The family of Alex Cerezo is pleased that upper level mall management finally acknowledged that changes need to be made to security at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. We are also encouraged that management has announced funding for security officer training, and that a full-time security officer will be stationed at the bus stop where Alex’s killer first threatened him with physical violence and mall security was nowhere to be found. It is our hope that the announcements made today are not merely lip service to ease tenant and community safety concerns in the short term, but rather a long-term commitment by mall management to devote the financial resources necessary to protect the safety of mall shoppers and employees.” 

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