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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 8, 2004

Gunfire at golf course leaves 2 dead, 1 injured

Emergency personnel attend to two shooting victims in the clubhouse.

Special to The Advertiser

By Peter Boylan and Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writers

Two men were killed and another critically wounded when gunfire erupted at midday yesterday in the parking lot of the Pali municipal golf course and spilled onto the first tee as stunned golfers looked on.

A shooting victim lies on the ground at the first hole of the Pali Golf Course. A witness said he had been shot in the back.

Special to The Advertiser

Police held golfers at the 18th tee box after the shooting. Police cleared the course for the investigation.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Honolulu police walk near the 15th green on a sweep of the Pali Golf Course for a suspect in a shooting. One man arrested at the course appeared not to be involved in the shooting.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Three men have been arrested in connection with the shooting, police said. One of the men was arrested at the Honolulu International Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Hilo, police said, and a second, Rodney Joseph, turned himself in to police, according to his attorney Chris Evans.

No charges have been filed.

One of the dead men was identified as Lepo Utu Taliese, said his nephew, Felix Scanlan. Taliese, who was in his 40s, had a long criminal history that included a life sentence without parole for murder, commuted by former Gov. John Waihee in 1994.

The name of the second victim was not released by police last night.

Scanlan said two factions met in the golf course parking lot yesterday after attending a funeral. They were to discuss a local gambling house.

The shooting was reported at 1:14 p.m. at the city golf course off Kamehameha Highway near the Castle Junction. The course was crowded with golfers taking advantage of the clear weather.

One man was taken to Castle Medical Center, where he died about an hour later of multiple gunshot wounds, a hospital official said.

Two other victims were taken to The Queen's Medical Center in critical condition. One of the men was died last night, but a hospital official declined to release updated information on the third man.

Honolulu police Deputy Chief Paul Putzulu said as many as 10 gunshots were fired during the melee, most likely from handguns. No bystanders were shot, he said.

Putzulu said he did not know why the men were in the parking lot, but that they knew each other. "I don't know if they intended to go golfing," Putzulu said.

One employee in the course restaurant said she heard shots from the upper-level parking area and saw people running to the lower parking level. Then she heard at least four more shots.

The woman, who would not give her name because suspects were still at large at that time, said she believed police captured a suspect on the course, because she was asked to provide water for a prisoner.

Two victims were found in the clubhouse near the bar area, one conscious, the other receiving CPR by police. A witness said one man was lying in the back and had been shot in the shoulder and lower back, while the second man, who appeared to be a friend, sat next to him. The extent of his injuries was unclear.

One of the men died later at Castle Medical Center.

The third victim was found near the starter's box near the first hole, also conscious, said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada. A witness said the man had been shot in the back.

William Tateishi was about to tee off at the ninth hole when he heard three gunshots.

"We see this big guy who was dressed in black come walking out, sort of stumbling a little bit along the fairway area," Tateishi said. "He walked out about 200 yards and then he stopped. He pulled out a cell phone and was talking on his cell phone, and then he threw his cell phone away. He then sat down, and then he collapses."

Tateishi said golfers "cautiously kept playing around the incident." But he said a police helicopter appeared overhead within minutes and motioned for everyone on the course to return to the clubhouse.

Two teams from the police Specialized Services Division scoured the grounds for suspects.

Early yesterday evening, police vehicles stood watch at the entrance to the course. Floodlights were brought in. Police said they expected the investigation to last well into the night.

In 1982, Taliese, also known as Lepo Utu, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1980 murder of fellow prison inmate Milton Nihipali.

In November 1994, Waihee commuted that sentence to life with the possibility of parole, according to Hawai'i Paroling Authority records. In 1995, Taliese was released after serving 14 years.

His parole was revoked in October 1996, but he was released again the next month.

In March 1999, Taliese was charged with first-degree burglary in the theft of a daily planner from a Diamond Head Road residence where MTV was filming its "Real World" series.

Police said yesterday they did not have a motive for the shooting.

Staff writers Derrick DePledge and Eloise Aguiar, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.