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$14K raised for security guard attacked at Kona hotel

  • This photo from GoFundMe shows John Kanui.

KAILUA-KONA — A 63-year-old hotel security guard remains hospitalized two weeks after he was brutally attacked by two men and a woman.

The man, identified in court records and by family as John Kanui, remains in critical condition, said Hawaii Police Department Maj. Robert Wagner on Wednesday. Kanui has been hospitalized at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu since the Sept. 17 incident at the Kona Seaside Hotel off Palani Road.

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“It does not look like it will be a quick recovery, the family is just hoping there will be a recovery,” Wagner said via email.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign set up by Kanui’s niece, Candi Runn, continues to climb as friends, family and strangers from near and far chip in amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000.

Created on Sunday, the campaign reached its initial $10,000 goal in just more than a day. By midday Wednesday, 190 people had contributed $14,210 toward the now-$20,000 goal. The campaign can be found online at www.gofundme.com/security-guard-help.

“We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support, we are so blessed,” Runn wrote in a Tuesday update on the GoFundMe page.

Runn, reached by phone Wednesday, said she was unable to speak with the media on behalf of the family. Attempts to reach Kanui’s family have been unsuccessful.

According to the GoFundMe campaign, Kanui suffered a broken neck and a traumatic brain injury in the attack. Bills are piling up and all funds raised will go toward his care, immediate and long term.

The suspects in the case, Wesley Samoa, 30, of Kona and Natisha Tautalatasi, 41, and Lama Lauvao, 30, both of Honolulu each face a single count of second-degree attempted murder. Each pleaded not guilty Friday in Kona Circuit Court.

Trial is set for Jan. 29. The defendants remain in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail.

The reported assault occurred about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 17 when Kanui responded to a “loud noise complaint” and made contact with the occupants of a black SUV in the parking lot at the Kona Seaside Hotel, according to police.

The occupants, later identified as Samoa, Lauvao and Tautalatasi, allegedly became involved in a verbal confrontation with the victim that escalated to the suspects physically assaulting the guard, who was pulled from his hotel security golf cart onto the ground.

The incident was caught on surveillance camera, footage from which shows Samoa, Lauvao and Tautalatasi, who were identified in the video by two Hawaii Police Department officers, according to testimony from a preliminary hearing Sept. 21, simultaneously striking the guard multiple times. In addition, the video, which was shown during a September court hearing, captured Tautalatasi kicking the victim multiple times while he lay on the ground motionless.

The video has been shared widely online and played on TV after it was released by authorities to news outlets. West Hawaii Today has refrained from publishing or sharing the video out of respect for the family.

Details about Kanui’s condition have been sporadic, with the most information released by a Kona Community Hospital emergency room doctor who treated the victim before he was flown to Oahu. The doctor, who testified during the Sept. 21 preliminary hearing, said the victim suffered a cervical spine fracture and classified the injuries as serious.

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Cedric Yamanaka, director of corporate communications for The Queen’s Medical Center, said Wednesday the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act prevented him from discussing or confirming a patient’s status or if they were admitted to the facility.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.