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Suspect sought in violent downtown Hilo robbery

  • LOPEZ
  • JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald Police crime scene barrier tape stretches across the box office entrance to the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo Monday morning.
  • JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald

    The box office alcove at the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo bears the blood of a violent incident that took place Monday morning.

A violent early Monday morning robbery in downtown Hilo sent a 67-year-old homeless man to the emergency room.

Police are seeking leads on the suspect, 21-year-old Elijah Lopez, a homeless Hilo man.

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Lopez allegedly struck the victim in the head with an unknown object, then reportedly took the man’s belongings before fleeing on foot toward Wainaku.

The older man was treated and released at Hilo Medical Center, police said.

Acting Lt. Todd Pataray of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section said the investigation is classified as first-degree robbery.

“Force was used, and items were taken,” Pataray said.

The attack, which was reported at about 6:40 a.m., left a sizable pool of blood in the box office alcove of the Palace Theater at 38 Haili St.

Yellow crime scene barrier tape remained across the theater’s entrance a couple of hours later.

Meadow Lambert, a Palace employee, said the box office opened later than its usual 10 a.m. opening time.

“We probably opened around 11 because it took time to clean up. Luckily, two other office people came in, and we cleaned it up with buckets of water and lots of bleach,” Lambert said. “I got in at about 9:30 and I noticed the caution tape as I was driving by, and I went, ‘Oh my gosh, what is going on here?’ There was still police line tape across the building, and I noticed what looked like a lot of blood on the ground by the box office and our front door.”

A check of court records shows Lopez has been convicted of numerous misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor offenses, including disorderly conduct, harassment, obstructing a highway, trespassing, failure to appear and numerous counts of contempt of court. He was charged last year with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, but the charge was later dropped.

Lopez has never been charged with a felony, but first-degree robbery — should he be charged with that offense — is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Lopez is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, 145 pounds, with brown, medium length hair and brown eyes. He’s known to frequent the downtown Hilo and Kailua-Kona areas.

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Anyone with information about Lopez’s whereabouts is asked to call the police nonemergency line at 935-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.