Man faces escape charge for fleeing van at courthouse

A man was arrested on an escape charge after he broke away and ran from a sheriff’s deputy who was taking the prisoner out of a police van at the Wailuku courthouse Thursday, police said.

Matthew Gardiner, 40, of Lahaina was chased by a police officer and apprehended on Wells Street after the escape, said Lt. Jayson Rego of the Criminal Investigation Division.

Gardiner’s bail was set at $5,000 on a charge of second-degree escape.

Gardiner had been arrested the day before in connection with a shoplifting at Walmart. At 11:15 a.m. Thursday, police transported him along with another man and a woman from the Wailuku police cellblock to the sheriff’s cellblock at the courthouse, Rego said.

After the police van arrived at the courthouse, a sheriff’s deputy opened the back door of the van and was taking Gardiner out when he jumped from the van, breaking away from the deputy’s grip, and ran toward Wells Street, Rego said. Police officer William Tau’a, who was standing near the van door, chased Gardiner.

The officer ordered Gardiner to stop before catching up with the escapee and restraining and arresting him in the parking lot of Central Pacific Bank, Rego said.

In the shoplifting case, Gardiner was seen leaving Walmart with a shopping cart containing more than $400 of unpaid merchandise Wednesday afternoon, police said. He ran from police and store loss-prevention employees and raised a 5-foot-long stick with a metal tip above his head as if he were going to strike a Walmart employee and a Home Depot employee, police said.

In that case, Gardiner’s bail was set at $16,000 on charges of attempted second-degree theft, second-degree terroristic threatening and two counts of attempted third-degree assault.

A $25,000 bail bond that had been posted for Gardiner in another case was surrendered.