Monday | October 16, 2017
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Wanat, 1 of 2 Hale Nani escapees, apprehended

Big Island police have apprehended Hale Nani escapee Andew Wanat, one of two men who fled the Hilo minimum security correctional facility Wednesday night.

Wanat was arrested at 11:50 a.m. Friday when he surrendered to Hawaii Police Department officers who pursued the 27-year-old in two foot chases before surrounding him behind a business on Palani Road in Kailua-Kona, said Hawaii Police Department Kona Patrol Capt. Randy Ishii. Wanat surrendered without incident and no officers were injured.

Robert C. Garcia, 23, remains at large. Police caution the public not to try to apprehend him, but rather to call police at 911.

Garcia is described as being African-American, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 130 pounds with short black hair and brown eyes. He often wears a goatee and mustache, and he has tattoos on his right forearm and the left side of his neck. He was last seen wearing a white Hawaii Community Correction Center shirt and blue HCCC shorts, according to police.

Police said Thursday the men were known to frequent the Kona area. On Friday, Ishii said Garcia could be anywhere on the island.

Reports from the community played a significant role in the apprehension of Wanat, Ishii said. Starting about 7 a.m., he said, police began receiving reports of people having seen Wanat in a vehicle in the Kailua-Kona area. An off-duty officer also reported seeing Wanat in the area.

About 10 to 15 minutes before Wanat was apprehended, police received one last report from the public that Wanat was in the area of Alapa Street in Kona’s Old Industrial Area, Ishii said. Patrol and community policing officers tracked down Wanat and a short chase ensued. Once police had Wanat surrounded behind a business off Palani Road, he surrendered at 11:50 a.m.

Wanat was arrested on suspicion of second-degree escape and is being held at the Kona police cellbock, Ishii said. Ishii said Wanat had no weapons. No officers were injured.

“The community played a huge role,” Ishii said.

Wanat and Garcia, who are both part of Hale Nani’s reintegration program, were not present for a 10:30 p.m. Wednesday headcount at the minimum security facility’s housing unit, said state Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz. The headcount is conducted about once per hour, she said. The men were last seen about 9 p.m.

Both men were at the facility for violations of terms or conditions of probation, Schwartz said. Garcia was scheduled for release on Oct. 2 while Wanat was slated to be released Jan. 13.

Hale Nani is a minimum security facility. It provides an offender reintegration and a work release program for sentenced inmates who will be released on Hawaii Island, according to the Department of Public Safety.