Justin Bundschuh, 26, says that, in the middle of his last day of work on Saturday, while renting surfboards and snorkel gear at Nukumoi Surf Co. at Po‘ipu, he was attacked, pushed into a rack of surfboards, and punched, while his assailant screamed racial epithets at him.
Bundschuh is asking the Kaua‘i Police Department to treat the assault as a hate crime, which would be the first hate crime prosecuted on Kaua‘i under state law.
Police Officer Arnold Cayabyab, the investigator of the assault, agreed with Justin. “I informed Justin that it is a hate crime,” he said in a phone interview.
Officer Cayabyab added that he had collected two witness statements, and that another witness had identified the assailant, whom he would not name. “We are still conducting our investigation, but there is enough probable cause for an arrest.”
Justin, who started Monday as a full-time youth pastor at Kauai Christian Fellowship in Po‘ipu, said in a phone interview that, at about 1p.m. on Saturday, he was standing outside of Nukumoi Surf Co., on the lanai, renting snorkel gear and surfboards when the suspect approached the shop, hurling epithets, and then picking Justin out in particular. “‘I hate every haole I see,’ he said, “
Justin said. “I ignored him,” as the assailant walked into the shop , and Justin returned to renting a surfboard to a tourist.
“After 10-15 seconds, he pushed me from behind into a rack of rental boards.” He continued his epithets, Justin said. “I tried to calm him down,” but he continued to hurl epithets. Then, the suspect “just popped me one”, swinging a right and connecting to Justin’s face, he said. Then the suspect’s friend tried to get him to stop. He started to walk away, but “still cussing at me,” he kicked a chair on the way off the lanai. When he hit the path, the perpetrator knocked a group of bodyboards out of a tourists’ man’s hands, Justin said.
“I told him to relax. ‘This is a business,'” he said. Then, Justin said, the suspect came back. He picked up a softball-sized lava rock and threatened to throw it at Justin and the tourist whom Justin was trying to help. “He was screaming for a couple of minutes,” he said. “‘If I ever see you in the water, I’ll drown you,’ he said” as he walked away.
“I’ve never seen him before in my life, at least that I remember,” Justin said. He added that it is a small island, and he might have seen him in the water while surfing, but that he could not remember him.
“It’s a random act of violence,” said Christine French, owner of Nukumoi Surf Company. “I don’t understand why there hasn’t been any action” in regards of an arrest. She added that the suspect caused damage to a number of surfboards, and threatened her customers.
“The only motivation was racial,” Justin said. “He was mad at haoles” and Justin was there in the way.
“We can’t have this on Kaua‘i,” he added. “You can’t come into someone’s business and throw punches.”
Ironically, it was Justin’s last day at Nukumoi; he wasn’t even supposed to be there. He was filling in for a youth in his church taking part in the NSSA surf contest at P.K.’s. “I was glad it was me there, though” he said. ” At least it was me getting hit” instead of the younger boy.
Justin’s father, Rick Bundschuh, pastor of Kauai Christian Fellowship, said that he felt Justin was not specifically targeted, and that he hoped that the suspect would get help.
“This is exactly the kind of guy we would like to work with,” Pastor Bundschuh said. “I have a lot of mercy and grace toward him.”
But, he believes, that prosecuting this matter will be beneficial to the community. “This is the only way these things will stop. It’s best for everybody involved” to prosecute, he said. “It’s not good for the community to let this go.”
“In Christian terms,” Pastor Bundschuh added, “We say, ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.'”
This would be the first prosecution of anyone on Kaua‘i under the Hate Crime Bill, which was signed into law by former Governor Ben Cayetano in June 2001. The Hate Crime Law allows for extended penalties, including prison sentences, for anyone convicted of a hate crime. Two people have been convicted in the state since the law was passed.