Man accused of shooting pellets at golfers, police
When someone started shooting at a half-dozen golfers at nearly 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Maui Country Club, they didn’t seek cover in a sand trap. Infuriated and armed with golf clubs, they charged their assailant instead.
“My wife was playing,” said Chris Werner, a club member. “I mean, you gotta do something.”
“He had to be captured,” said Paul Peters, a 49-year-old attorney and Paia resident. “You couldn’t let him be loose.
“We can’t have our family members shot at the club and at the beach,” he said.
Kula resident Chris Millen said the golfers thought the man might have a .22-caliber firearm.
“It’s dangerous. Somebody could die,” he said.
So, disregarding their own safety, the golfers ran toward a wooded area between the green of the 1st hole and the fairway of the 8th, trying to flank the shooter on either side.
“I went directly toward the area where the shooting was coming from,” Peters said. He heard the man yell repeatedly, “I’m going to kill you!”
The golfers found themselves in what Peters described as “very dense foliage.” He made his way through grass that was hip high and climbed over logs.
Another golfer, Paia resident Ronald Moore, also went after the man, tracking the apparently homeless man to a tented area that Peters described as a “fort.”
“We just heard the sound of a pellet gun firing repeatedly,” Moore said. “It must have been on automatic because there was a shot every few seconds. We all kind of ran toward that area, and we could see him. He was inside a tent, and he would pop up and fire two, three times.”
The men ran up to about 12 to 15 feet away from the man and were fired upon 25 or 30 times, Moore said.
One of those shots struck Peters in his upper-right arm as he was going over a log, he said. A lead pellet embedded in his humerous bone, too deep to have removed right away, Peters said after being treated and released Sunday evening from Maui Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room.
“It hurt. It hurt a lot,” he said.
Werner saw Peters get hit.
The pellet “went into his arm quite a ways . . . It was a bad one,” Werner said.
As the golfers closed in on the man, Peters said the man started firing at him exclusively, and he tried his best to dodge the shots.
Then, just as the man was zeroing in on Peters, police arrived, the men reported.
Police yelled at the man, telling him to drop his weapon, Peters said. The man shot at police, hitting one officer with a pellet in his bulletproof vest, he said.
Remarkably, the officers showed restraint, not using deadly force to subdue the man, the golfers said.
“Given that they were being shot at, I couldn’t believe how restrained they were,” Peters said. “They saved his life. He should have been shot.”
Moore said police used Tasers on the man two or three times to subdue him, but he continued being combative.
“He was still fighting,” he said.
Peters said he and the other golfers were aware of another pellet-shooting incident Wednesday, at almost the same location. Dr. John Mills, an emergency room physician at Maui Memorial, confirmed Sunday that he was shot Wednesday in his thumb while playing golf.
Both shootings occurred in the vicinity of the 1st hole’s green and the 2nd hole’s tee at the par-36, nine-hole golf course, said golf course manager Russell Goshi.
Around 1 p.m., Peters arrived at Maui Memorial in an ambulance, and the suspect was taken there for treatment as well, although he was hand-cuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser.
He emerged from the vehicle with his face and legs bloodied. He was taken inside the emergency room on a gurney with his hands and feet shackled.
At 12:24 p.m., Maui police dispatchers received multiple calls of shots being fired off of Nonohe Place near the country club, said acting Sgt. Karen Wong, public information officer for the Maui Police Department.
An “unidentified responsible” was arrested, she said.
As of 9:13 p.m., the man remained at Maui Memorial, and “this case is pending further investigation,” Wong said.
The shooting drew a half-dozen police cruisers and an ambulance to the Spreckelsville course where golfers continued to play, even while police investigated the crime scene.
The golfers who helped hunt down the suspect refused to let the events ruin a sunny day on the links. After the man was taken into custody, they continued to play.
“It ended up being a long day,” Moore said. “We were all pretty jittery, and it was hard to get back into focus. But it was pretty fun.
“This wasn’t a normal Sunday,” he said.