Pahoa Man Arrested and Charged in Lower Puna Robbery

The Hawai`i Police Department has arrested and charged a Pāhoa man in connection with a robbery incident in lower Puna.

At 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday evening, a 29-year-old `Opihikao man and his acquaintance a 37-year-old man from California, told police that they were stopped on Kamā‘ili Road to photograph the eruption when they were approached by two men.

One man demanded the victims’ camera equipment while the other man brandished a handgun. The victims relinquished their belongings and were able to drive away from the area. No gunshots were fired and the victims were not physically injured.

When police arrived back at the Kamā‘ili Road scene, they encountered two men near a parked sport-utility vehicle. Police observed camera equipment inside the SUV that was consistent with items described by the victims.

At 2:45 a.m. on Thursday morning police arrested 55-year-old Edward Wilson of `Opihikao and 55-year-old Michael Brant of Pāhoa, on suspicion of second-degree theft.

They were taken to the Hilo cellblock while detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section continued the investigation.

Police served a search warrant on the SUV and recovered property from both victims, some of which had since been damaged.

Investigators determined that Brant was not the suspect who brandished the firearm. He was released from police custody Friday afternoon pending further investigation.

At 3:20 p.m. on Friday, police charged Wilson with two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree theft, and one count each of use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, second-degree criminal property damage, and fourth-degree criminal property damage. The initial theft charge was upgraded from a class C felony to a class B felony due to this incident occurring within an area covered by an emergency declaration. Wilson remains in police custody in lieu of $42,250 bail pending his initial appearance scheduled for Mondayafternoon, (June 4), in Puna District Court.

Police are also asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the gunman. The suspect is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 6-feet, 210 pounds, with a long beard. He was last seen wearing a black shirt, and shorts.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective William Brown of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2384 or William.Brown@hawaiicounty.gov.

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