Shoplifting spree turns into armed robbery, police say

  • MICHELLE HANAGAMI
  • NICHOLAS COOK

A shoplifting spree at the Hilo Walmart store escalated into armed robbery and felony terroristic threatening and drug charges, as well as misdemeanor assault and theft charges, according to court documents filed by police.

At about 9:30 a.m. Monday, a store detective saw 35-year-old Nicholas M. Cook put on a pair of $80 Herman brand boots. Cook, and an accomplice, 30-year-old Michelle Hanagami, then selected and concealed a number of merchandise items and left the store without paying, police said in the documents.

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The store detective and two fellow security personnel attempted to stop Cook and Hanagami at the entrance of the garden section, police said. Cook then reportedly took a fixed-blade knife out of a belt sheath, brandished it and pointed it at the detective and one of the guards and said to the guard, “Come you (expletive), you think you tough?”

The Walmart employees reportedly saw Cook and Hanagami get into a Nissan pickup truck and noted the license plate number.

While driving out of the parking lot, Cook allegedly fired about four shots from a black handgun — which later was determined to be a BB gun — toward the three Walmart employees, all of whom scurried for cover. One of the store detectives suffered a BB shot to the back, documents state.

Cook then drove off toward Railroad Avenue, the employees told police.

The store detectives reportedly identified Cook and Hanagami from a photo lineup, and a search warrant was served on their Anela Street residence. The search turned up a knife and BB pistol as well as shoplifted items valued at more than $400, the documents state.

Also found were three glass smoking pipes that tested positive for methamphetamine residue, according to the documents.

Cook reportedly admitted to shoplifting, brandishing the knife and firing the BB pistol, police said, while Hanagami said the pipes were hers.

Cook was charged with first-degree robbery, third-degree assault and four counts of first-degree terroristic threatening. His bail was set at $13,500.

Hanagami was charged with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, possession of drug paraphernalia and fourth-degree theft. Her bail was set at $2,250.

Both made their initial appearances Wednesday in Hilo District Court and appeared again on Thursday, waiving their right to a preliminary hearing within 48 hours.

Cook, who also appeared Thursday, was ordered to return at 2 p.m. Oct. 10 for a preliminary hearing.

Hanagami was ordered to return for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The most serious charge faced by Cook, first-degree robbery, is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison upon conviction. The first-degree terroristic threatening charges are all Class C felony charges punishable by up to five years behind bars.

The drug and drug paraphernalia charges Hanagami faces are both Class C felonies.

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Both remain in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center in lieu of bail.

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

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