KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii Island police have charged a Pahoa man in connection with a robbery incident that occurred Wednesday night in lower Puna.
At 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, a 29-year-old Opihikao man, and his acquaintance, a 37-year-old man from California, told police that they were stopped on Kamaili Road to photograph the eruption when they were approached by two men.
According to the Hawaii Police Department, one man demanded the victims’ camera equipment while the other man brandished a handgun. The victims complied and were able to drive away from the area. No gunshots were fired, and the victims were not injured.
When police arrived at the Kamaili 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. Thursday, police said they arrested 50-year-old Edward Wilson, of Opihikao, and 55-year-old Michael Brant, of Pahoa 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 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., 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, according to police.
The initial theft charge was upgraded from a Class C felony to a Class B felony because it occurred 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 Monday in Puna District Court.
Police are also asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the gunman. The suspect is described as a Caucasian man, approximately 6 feet tall, weighing 210 pounds, with a long beard. He was last seen wearing a black shirt, and shorts.
Anyone who may have information about this incident should contact the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or Detective William Brown at 961-2384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.