WAILUKU - A six-month jail term was ordered Wednesday for a Kahului man who took out a rifle during a fight with a man who had intervened to keep the defendant from hurting his girlfriend.
John Yirug, 23, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service as part of five years' probation.
He had pleaded no contest to keeping a loaded firearm and ammunition in an improper place and first-degree terroristic threatening.
Yirug had been drinking at a party at a residence on Kahoolawe Street in Kahului after 10 p.m. on July 19 when the incident occurred.
According to police, a man stepped in to stop Yirug from hurting his girlfriend. The two men exchanged words before Yirug left, went to his truck and returned with a 30-06-caliber bolt-action rifle, police reported.
The other man tried to take the rifle away from Yirug and the two struggled before Yirug wrestled away the rifle and left, according to police.
When officers went to Yirug's residence on Maalo Place in Kahului to look for him, he wasn't there but police found an open box of 30-06-caliber ammunition in his bedroom.
The officers went back to the Kahoolawe Street home, where they found and arrested Yirug. One round of ammunition was recovered from the rear floorboard of his truck, police said.
Yirug told police he had left the rifle by a tree in a park near Lihikai Elementary School, where it was recovered within feet of a basketball court.
In court Wednesday, 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August questioned Yirug's claim that he had found the unregistered rifle next to a tree near a beach in Spreckelsville off Stable Road. Along with the rifle, he told police he found ammunition and a box containing a new scope.
Yirug insisted he had found the rifle hidden in brush.
"I don't believe it," August said.
"Nobody leaves a weapon like this lying on the ground."
Noting that Yirug has no significant prior record, August followed a plea agreement in imposing the sentence.
The rifle was forfeited to the state.
Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.