A Hawai‘i task force of law enforcement officials caught Christopher Santos late Thursday night after a months-long chase ended in Hanama‘ulu.
Around 10:45 p.m. federal officials used non-lethal force to apprehend Santos after a short foot chase.
“He needed to be caught, and taken off the street,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Glenn Ferreira. “Now we have him.”
Santos was visiting a friend, Anela Delima, who was under observation, on Waiahi Street in Hanama‘ulu when he noticed authorities approaching.
“He was on a black Ninja street bike (motorcycle) and he couldn’t get it started, so he took off on foot,” Ferreira said.
After passing through several yards and emerging onto Lawehana Street, he would not yield to authorities, the marshal said, requiring the use of non-lethal force. “They used a bean bag gun to stop him and after he wouldn’t stop struggling, they hit him with a taser that effectively stopped all resistance,” Ferreira said.
Delima was arrested as well and is in custody, en route to Honolulu where she will be arraigned Monday on charges of aiding and abetting a fugitive.
“She may have thought she was helping a friend,” said Kaua‘i Police Department assistant chief Roy Asher. “but doing that comes with a consequence and there will be a penalty.”
Santos’ girlfriend Roberta Leon was arrested Wednesday and is already in Honolulu awaiting a Monday detention hearing. She is charged with aiding and abetting a fugitive.
“That’s the message we want people to know,” Asher said, “Helping someone like Santos will get you in trouble.”
U.S. Marshal Ferreira says he is confident there will be three or four more arrests for those who helped Santos elude authorities.
Santos is currently in the custody of the state of Hawai‘i for parole violation and is being held at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center in Wailua.
His parole is set to expire in 2012, and the state may detain him until then, Ferreira said.
Once the state is satisfied that Santos has met the terms of his parole, federal authorities have a federal warrant for his arrest on charges of assault on two federal law enforcement officers.
During a March 6 pursuit in Kapahi, as Santos was reportedly evading authorities in a car, he clipped the two federal officers injuring both, Ferreira said.
Those assault charges earned a federal warrant and may net Santos up to 20 years in prison.
The Hawai‘i Fugitive Task Force came to Kaua‘i on March 6 at the request of KPD after Santos managed to slip away twice.
One KPD officer who asked to remain anonymous due to undercover work said, “To all of these people who were helping him, we just kept hammering at them and letting them know we were going to arrest him and that helping him would be trouble.”
Asher said the department had never dealt with a situation like this before. “He roamed islandwide, and the people who helped him didn’t realize the consequences of it,” he said.
“That’s what people need to know,” Ferreira said, “If you harbor someone like this, you will get arrested.”
“One of the reasons he was captured was the people harboring him finally started to realize where it would get them,” said the KPD officer.
“He was a danger … every time you do a chase and there are vehicles involved anything can happen,” Ferreira said.
Officers say Santos was “cocky,” that he behaved as if he was playing a game.
“He left a wave of destruction,” Asher said, “He was putting officers and the community at risk … the same thing with the people harboring him, they were put at risk too.”
Santos’s rap sheet reads 53 arrests, with seven felonies and 10 misdemeanors.
Many of his arrests have been drug related, but include first-degree burglary, unauthorized control of a motor vehicle, resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle and second-degree theft.
Santos has led officials on three high-speed chases.
The most recent incident was March 6, where he was charged with assault on the federal officers.
On Feb. 16 he escaped into the Hanapepe Valley through a cane field, in a chase that included helicopters. The first chase was Dec. 18, 2006, when he fled and crashed his car through a gate at an ancient Hawaiian heiau.
Asher, with the KPD, is glad the chase is over. “Some of the units have spent 100 percent of their time over the last two or three weeks on this and it takes away from some of our other efforts,” Asher said. “I think the community is safer now.”
Ferreira said that Santos, in many ways, was playing a game, and that now the game is over.
Santos is being held on a parole violation, for which there is no bail.
He is also facing charges of: second degree promotion of a dangerous drug; possession of drug paraphernalia; fourth degree criminal property damage; reckless driving; resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle; and unauthorized control of a motor vehicle.
The task force that assisted the KPD in the chase includes officers from Maui PD, Hawai‘i and Honolulu Sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, representatives from the prosecutor’s office and the Attorney General’s Office.