Search continues for MCCC inmate

The search continued Monday evening for Maui Community Correctional Center inmate Reid Kauhaahaa, who escaped during a lunch stop at Waikapu on 30 while in a work detail earlier in the day.

State Department of Education officials said Monday afternoon that both Wailuku Elementary and Iao Intermediate schools were put on lockdown for about a half-hour during lunchtime Monday. Puu Kukui Elementary was put on alert.

A teacher at one of the schools mentioned that some of the students were terrified and in tears.

Kauhaahaa, 26, who also goes by his middle name, Ilikai, is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and 135 pounds. He has hazel eyes and shoulder-length brown hair that may be in a ponytail.

He has two tattoos on his neck with “Aliana” on the left and “La Vida” on the right. He also has a tribal tattoo on his left biceps, a clown on his left torso and designs on his legs, police said.

He was last seen wearing an orange shirt and jeans.

If the public spots Kauhaahaa, they should not approach him but call 911, police said.

In November 2011, after Kauhaahaa was found to have violated terms of his probation, he was resentenced to five-year prison terms for second-degree burglary and second-degree theft in 2007 and 2008 cases. He also has convictions for third-degree assault, violating an order for protection and third-degree criminal property damage, according to court records.

His next parole hearing was scheduled for Feb. 28, said Toni Schwartz, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman.

He was given “community custody status,” meaning that he was allowed to work in the community, she said.

“Allowing inmates to participate in work lines and work furlough is part of the gradual transition process back into the community,” she said.

Participants in work furlough have to be at the appropriate custody level and in “good standing” and are usually less than 24 months from the completion of their sentence or nearing a parole hearing where they could be released, Schwartz said.

“It is a risk, we acknowledge, in order to help them learn to be self-sufficient,” she said. “A majority of the people who go into work furlough do well.”

At about noon, the work detail that Kauhaahaa was in stopped in Waikapu for lunch when he fled, said police. The jail guard could not give chase because he had other inmates in his custody and called 911 for assistance.

Police searched the Waikapu area but were unable to locate Kauhaahaa.

“We are still investigating how he walked away and the timeline,” Schwartz said.

After Kauhaahaa escaped, Wailuku Elementary and Iao Intermediate schools were put in lockdown, while Puu Kukui Elementary was notified but not placed in lockdown based on the reported location of the escapee, said Department of Education spokeswoman Dara Young.

The lockdown ended after about a half-hour when the suspect was reported moving away from the schools, she said.

“Some of the kids were quite agitated,” said Alan Isbell, 4th-grade teacher at Wailuku Elementary. “They were obviously quite frightened.”

His students were locked down in the cafeteria because it was lunchtime, he said. When they returned to his classroom after the lockdown was lifted, some of the children were crying.

School ended early Monday because of parent-teacher conferences, he said, adding that some of the parents were unaware of the lockdown that had occurred minutes earlier.

At Iao Intermediate, staff and students had already performed a “practice” lockdown at about 8 a.m., when the real thing occurred several hours later, a parent said.

* Lila Fujimoto and Melissa Tanji contributed to this report. Lee Imada can be reached at