LIHUE — The man who threatened to harm himself inside Walmart, which caused the store to be evacuated, said he did so because the store owed him money.
“I was serious,” said Isaiah Justice, 49, in a phone interview Wednesday while he stays at Mahelona Medical Center in Kapaa. “I was not playing, I wanted my money.”
Justice faces disorderly conduct charges after he pulled out a screwdriver and held it to his neck after he attempted to return something at the store’s customer service counter on Monday. Justice said he was expecting $148.23 to be credited to his credit card after he returned a tent and wagon to the retailer.
He said he waited a week but when the money still wasn’t there, he returned to the store. Justice, who said he suffers from bi-polar disorder, said when he was told by store employees that he wouldn’t receive the money, is when he “lost it.”
He pulled a screwdriver from his pocket and threatened to harm himself.
Justice, who is homeless, said the tent he returned to the store is the one he lived in with his wife and did so because it was frayed.
Patrons and employees were evacuated for an hour while police officers and crisis negotiators talked to Justice inside the store on Kuhio Highway. He did not threaten other patrons or employees, according to the county. He was taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital.
Justice said he and his wife hadn’t eaten in two days prior to the incident, and needed the money because he lives on $336 a month from the state for his disability.
Erin Hofmann, spokeswoman for Walmart, couldn’t comment on the alleged transaction but said the store staff reacted in the best manner given the circumstances.
“For the safety of our customers and associates, we did decide to take action and evacuate the store,” she said.
Justice was convicted in 2010 to three days confinement and 20 hours of community service for misdemeanor disorderly conduct.