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Man charged with threat to set fire to assault witnesses

WAILUKU — The boy-friend of a woman suspected in a Lahaina assault was arrested for allegedly threatening to set fire to two witnesses against her.

Jason Gallegos, 44, of Lahaina was charged with two counts each of first-degree terroristic threatening and intimidating a witness, as well as third-degree assault.

He was arrested after the two witnesses reported being threatened by Gallegos on Sunday night, following the arrest of his 46-year-old girlfriend at about 8 p.m. for investigation of first-degree assault of a man at McDonald’s restaurant at 885 Wainee St. Police said the man suffered life-threatening injuries and was in critical condition Monday at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Gallegos was there when the two witnesses were interviewed by police and gave statements about what they had seen during the assault Sunday night, Deputy Prosecutor Byron Fujieda said during Gallegos’ initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in Wailuku District Court.

He said Gallegos went up to one witness and punched him in the face.

Later, Gallegos tracked down the men “and threatened to light them on fire,” Fujieda said.

He said Gallegos was holding a gas can and a lighter and was swinging the gas can so the men thought they might be doused with gasoline, “causing fear that their lives were in danger.”

The witnesses told police that Gallegos had approached them and two other men at about 11 p.m. Sunday as they were gathered in front of Lahaina Self Storage on Papalaua Street. Gallegos called the men “rats” for what he said they did to his girlfriend, according to police.

In asking that bail for Gallegos be increased from $4,000 to $42,000, Fujieda said, “We believe this threat will be imminent to these people should he be released.”

Deputy Public Defender Gustavo Gonzalez opposed any increase, saying Gallegos couldn’t post any amount of bail. Gallegos has a full-time job in Lahaina dealing with recyclables, Gonzalez said.

Judge Keith Tanaka said he considered the nature of the charges in increasing Gallegos’ bail to $12,500. Gallegos was ordered to have no contact with the witnesses.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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