Homeless beating suspect arrested

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HILO — A Pahoa man suspected of attacking a disabled homeless man last week turned himself into police Friday morning.

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HILO — A Pahoa man suspected of attacking a disabled homeless man last week turned himself into police Friday morning.

Christopher Mohrlang, 35, of Pahoa, also known as “Chris Mohr,” was charged with two misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault. He was released from custody after posting $1,000 bail.

Just after 1 a.m. on June 7, Mohrlang allegedly assaulted John Hartley, a 57-year-old man who resides in Pahoa but has no permanent address.

Hartley said he’d been sleeping out front of the Pahoa Village Museum when Mohrlang allegedly poured ice water on him, maced him in the face multiple times and punched him in the head. Hartley, who has a partly amputated right leg and uses a wheelchair, said the encounter was unprovoked and left him blind for days.

“I’m still angry,” Hartley told the Tribune-Herald on Friday after hearing about Mohrlang’s charges. “I’m still just really upset. I just want him to be held accountable. I’m not the first person he’s done this to. There are others before me. I want to prosecute this.”

The incident prompted widespread outcry once Hartley, who is well-known in Pahoa, claimed that Mohrlang was the attacker. Many offered support for Hartley via Facebook, and an anonymous donor gave money to help the homeless man get a prosthetic leg.

Mohrlang is believed to be a manager at the Lava Shack bar in Pahoa. He’d previously told other media outlets he was the owner of the establishment and condemned the attack.

At least part of the incident was caught on surveillance video, though it’s difficult to tell from footage who the attacker is.

Hawaii Police Department Sgt. Brandon Konanui said Friday Hartley positively identified Mohrlang in a photo which police used to complete the investigation.

“The victim, John, is the one who identified (Mohrlang),” Konanui said. “I’m not sure about the quality (of the surveillance video) … but it was enough to collaborate John’s story.”

Konanui said police completed the majority of the investigation Thursday. Morhlang turned himself in before police could arrest him.

Earlier this week, at least one other homeless man in Pahoa told the Tribune-Herald he’d also been attacked by Mohrlang. As of Friday, no other alleged victims had come forward to police, Konanui said.

Hartley previously said he’d been mulling litigation against Mohrlang, with the help Pahoa attorney Ivan Van Leer. On Friday, Hartley said he still plans to do so.

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“I’m filing a lawsuit for sure,” he said. “The ball is just beginning to roll.”

Mohrlang’s arraignment hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. on July 21. Third-degree assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to year in jail.

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