Residents: No rhyme or reason to ‘false cracks’

Two recent “false crack” incidents have some residents wondering if the cases were random acts of violence, or worse: an emerging trend among angst-ridden youths.

Chad Lopez, 19, was at a Saturday party earlier this month at Lumaha‘i Beach when three males “jumped” him and knocked him out. Though parties at that area have been infamous for altercations in the past, this type of incident, involving a “false crack” or “sucker punch,” puts a new twist on the location’s notoriety.

Witnesses said after Lopez fell to the ground on March 11 from the “false crack,” at least one of his attackers began kicking him.

When his friends discovered him, he was on the ground, unconscious, with a broken jaw.

A similar “false crack” incident happened Tuesday, when an elderly tourist was attacked by a male said to be in his late teens or early 20s.

The tourist, in his 60s, suffered a gash wound on his head after the suspect began hitting him on the head from behind. Witnesses to the incident said nothing was stolen from the man and that it appeared he was attacked for no apparent reason.

In Lopez’s case, one of his friends was verbally confronted earlier in the evening, but besides that, his stepfather said, the motive for the beating was equally unclear.

“His friends found him on the ground,” said Lopez’s stepfather, Mark Martinez. “His girlfriend had to hold him up and take him to the car. His jaw was just dangling.”

It was nearly 36 hours before Lopez — who doesn’t have medical insurance — could undergo the surgery he needed for the injury, at Tripler Army Medical Center on O‘ahu. The beating has already incurred thousands of dollars worth of medical care, Martinez said.

Though no suspects have been arrested in the incident, eyewitness reports link at least one Kapa‘a resident to Lopez’s beating.

“I can’t tell you the group who attacked Chad, but I can tell you that this is their form of recreation,” Martinez said. “They go up from behind or the side and hit kids ‘just because.’ Then they brag about it.”

The bragging is what linked one of the alleged attackers to the incident.

The sensei of one of the males Martinez believes hit his son said the alleged attacker isn’t violent. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sensei said, “He’s a good kid. Jiujitsu is a grappling art — it’s wrestling. We don’t teach punching or kicking.”

The problem, he said, is that youths in general on the island have idle time to make trouble.

“After a certain age they have free afternoons and there’s no free instruction available anywhere,” he said. “The kids get into ‘ice,’ sometimes it’s the parents themselves. And I watch as the futures are wrecked.”

Not commenting on this specific incident, the sensei said the island needs some sort of non-profit kids center that would offer “life instructions, counseling and training in martial arts” to help mold young minds.

Despite the sensei’s testimony that one of the alleged attackers lacked violent tendencies, Martinez countered that by saying drugs or alcohol, which might have been involved, can bring out the worst in people.

Lopez, who is scheduled to return to O‘ahu for a checkup this week, still cannot chew food.

In the meantime, Martinez said he hopes the recent “cheap shot” trend will turn downward.

“These kids are living with a false sense of security,” he said. “One day the guy they hit isn’t going to go down — he’s going to turn around and beat the living hell out of them and they’re going to get hit unconscious.”

Martinez is offering a reward to anyone offering information leading to an arrest.

He can be reached at (808) 651-4967. Residents who would prefer to call the police can call dispatch at (808) 241-1711.

• Amanda C. Gregg, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or agregg@kauaipubco.com.

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