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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2002

Police honor hospital worker for valor

By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer

Security guard Solomon Kamauu Jr. said he was just doing his job when he stopped a gunman entering an elevator at Castle Medical Center on Feb. 10.

Castle Medical Center employees Edward Borges Jr., left, Laurie Yagi and Solomon Kamauu Jr., who were involved in the disarming of a gunman, listen as commendations are awarded — including a Civilian Medal of Valor for Kamauu.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

All the same, the Kailua resident's modesty didn't stop police from recognizing heroism yesterday, heroism displayed by Kamauu and a Campbell High School student in separate cases of civilian assists to law enforcement.

The student, Royce Dela Cerna, wasn't able to attend the ceremony at police headquarters to receive his Civilian Medal of Valor for disarming an attacker in an Oct. 22 knife assault at a Kapolei bus stop. Dela Cerna witnessed a stabbing and then distracted the armed suspect by trying to kick the knife out of his hand, and later challenged the attacker to put down his knife.

Police officers and other civilians received other honors at the gathering. Among them: Sgt. Ardi Maioho was named Employee of the Quarter for organizing an event last fall uniting the communities served by the Kahuku substation where she works.

But the spotlight was trained largely on Kamauu, who, according to friends and family, tries to avoid this kind of attention.

"It's just like graduation," he said, as officers and loved ones trooped by and deposited lei on his broad shoulders.

Police arrived after the 9:40 a.m. incident to find the 39-year-old suspect, Ervan M. Kaneshiro, restrained by Kamauu and other Castle Medical Center employees.

Kaneshiro, who police said had a loaded rifle, is being held without bail at O'ahu Community Correctional Center, where he awaits trial on firearms offenses.

A pivotal moment came when Kamauu saw Kaneshiro from about 50 feet away holding a rifle as he waited at the basement elevator, police said. The door opened, and 19-year-old Laurie Yagi, a food service worker, emerged with a cart of trays.

Kamauu yelled at her to hold the elevator, which she did, her heart pounding furiously. Kamauu tried to keep his cool.

"My first instinct was to be calm," he said. "My next instinct was to take away his space," Kamauu said. "So I cornered him in the elevator and asked where he was going."

"To take care of business," Kaneshiro allegedly said. Kamauu didn't like the sound of that.

There was no struggle, Kamauu said. He took Kaneshiro's gun, handed it to Yagi and radioed his partner Edward Borges Jr. for help. Yagi brought the gun to a room where it was locked; Borges helped restrain Kaneshiro until police arrived.

Yagi and Borges were honored, respectively, with a certificate of merit and a letter of appreciation.

Yagi had just begun training for a new job washing dishes; her old cashier's job had kept her safely behind the register, she said.

"It was a very testing first day," she said.

Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Oh, no, I think she was in the right place," said her mother, Lindy. "Because she did the right thing."

Reach Vicki Viotti at 525-8053, or at vviotti@honoluluadvertiser.com.