$14K raised for beating victim

  • John Kanui. (Photo from GoFundMe/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — A 63-year-old man remains hospitalized two weeks after the hotel security guard was brutally attacked by two men and a woman.

The man, who has been identified in the courts and by family as John Kanui, remains in critical condition, Hawaii Police Maj. Robert Wagner said Wednesday. He has been hospitalized at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu since the Sept. 17 incident at the Kona Seaside Hotel off Palani Road.

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“It does not look like it will be a quick recovery, the family is just hoping there will be a recovery,” Wagner said via email.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign set up by Kanui’s niece, Candi Runn, continues to climb as friends, family and strangers from near and far chip in amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000.

Created on Sunday, the campaign reached its initial $10,000 goal in just over a day. By mid-day Wednesday, 190 people had contributed $14,210 toward the now-$20,000 goal. The campaign can be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/security-guard-help.

“Omygoodnesss….. we have met our first goal!!!” Runn wrote in a Tuesday update on the GoFundMe page. “We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support, we are so blessed. Thank you all so much for your donations and continues prayers.”

Runn, reached by phone Wednesday, said she was unable to speak with the media on behalf of the family, but passed WHT’s contact information along to them. Wednesday’s and other attempts since the incident to reach Mr. Kanui’s family have been unsuccessful.

According to Runn’s GoFundMe campaign, however, Kanui suffered a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury in the attack. Bills are piling up and all funds raised will go toward his care, immediate and long term.

The suspects in the case, Wesley Samoa, 30, of Kona, and Natisha Tautalatasi, 41, and Lama Lauvao, 30, both of Honolulu, each face a single count of second-degree attempted murder. Each pleaded not guilty to the offense during a hearing held Friday before 3rd Circuit Court Judge Melvin Fujino.

Trial is set for Jan. 29, 2018. The defendants remain in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail.

The reported assault occurred about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 17 when Kanui responded to a “loud noise complaint” and made contact with the occupants of a black SUV in the parking lot at the Kona Seaside Hotel, according to police.

The occupants, later identified as Samoa, Lauvao and Tautalatasi, allegedly became involved in a verbal confrontation with the victim that escalated to the suspects physically assaulting the guard, who was pulled from his hotel security golf cart onto the ground.

The incident was caught on surveillance camera with Samoa, Lauvao and Tautalatasi simultaneously striking the guard multiple times. In addition, the video, which was shown during a September court hearing, captured Tautalatasi kicking the victim multiple times while he lay on the ground motionless.

Also during the hearing, Samoa told the judge he was a security guard in Kona when questioned regarding bail.

Being a “security guard” in the State of Hawaii requires a license from the Board of Private Detectives and Guards, which falls under the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional Licensing Division. A check with the division indicated neither Kanui nor Samoa held such a license.

The video has been shared widely online and played on TV after it was released by authorities to news outlets. West Hawaii Today has refrained from publishing or sharing the video on its platforms out of respect for the family.

“We know that the video of the attack was released by the press yesterday and has hit social media like a wildfire. But because of nature of graphics and how horrific it was to view… please do NOT post that on here,” Runn wrote on the GoFundMe page.

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Details on the man’s condition have been sporadic with the most information released by a Kona Community Hospital emergency room doctor who treated the victim before he was flown to Oahu. The doctor, who testified during a Sept. 21 preliminary hearing, said the victim suffered a cervical spine fracture and classified the injuries as serious.

Cedric Yamanaka, director of corporate communications for The Queen’s Medical Center, said Wednesday the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prevented him from discussing or confirming a patient’s status or admitted to the facility.