By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
What might have been a petty misdemeanor shoplifting charge became felony robbery when the suspect allegedly attacked a loss prevention agent outside the Keaau Foodland supermarket.
According to court documents filed by police, 53-year-old Gordon W.K. Kong was seen taking several items from the Puna store, including mochi and organic shampoo and conditioner, concealed them inside his shirt and the waistband of his jeans, and left the store with a female companion after she paid for a gallon of milk.
The store detective, Renee Souza, wrote in her report that she approached and stopped Kong about 15 feet outside the store with her security badge in hand. She wrote that Kong shoved her, causing her badge to fly out of her hand and her prescription glasses to the ground.
“I yelled that Kong was under arrest for theft,” Souza wrote. She wrote that the shampoo and conditioner were dropped to the ground during a struggle.
“Kong tried to leave and I had assistance by fellow Foodland personnel,” she wrote. She added that a man who identified himself as an off-duty police officer “assisted in subduing Kong” and that she “handcuffed Kong without incident.”
Court documents indicate that Souza sustained injuries to both knees in a fall during the scuffle; the extent of those injuries weren’t stated.
Police also wrote that Kong admitted to concealing and taking the items from the store. He was charged with second-degree robbery, a Class B felony that carries a possible 10-year prison term, for the use of force against Souza.
All the items allegedly stolen were recovered, Souza wrote.
At Kong’s initial court appearance on Friday, Deputy Public Defender Patrick Munoz requested that Kong be placed on supervised release.
“Mr. Kong does have an address and phone number which he could be reached at,” he said. “He has a wife with medical conditions that he is the primary caregiver for, as well as his three children.” He added that Kong is employed as an auto mechanic.
Deputy Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen objected to the request for supervised release based on Kong’s “extensive criminal history.”
“Defendant has 24 criminal contempt (of court) convictions,” he said. “… In addition, the defendant has three prior felony convictions, more specifically, robbery in the second degree, promotion of dangerous drugs in the third degree and theft in the second degree.”
Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas maintained Kong’s bail at $25,000, and set a preliminary hearing for Tuesday at 2 p.m.
Kong remained in custody Friday evening at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.