Man previously suspected of murder charged in parking lot attack

Gary Lee Landis

A man who was arrested after an attack in a busy Ward parking lot has been charged.

Gary Landis was charged with first-degree robbery and unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle. His bail was set at $125,000.

The charges come a little more than a week after Landis was arrested on suspicion of murder in a separate case, then set free without charges.

On June 2, the 30-year-old was arrested for the death of Thaddeus Pirga Jr., which occurred back in November. He was released pending investigation two days later.

Since then, he’s been arrested twice. The very next day, police picked him up again, this time for sleeping in a park after hours.

Now, he’s the suspect in another violent crime: robbing a 75-year-old woman and hitting her with a baseball bat.

Honolulu police say it happened at around 10 a.m. Thursday at the parking lot just outside Marukai at Ward Gateway Center.

gary lee landis arrest graphic

Witnesses say they first saw Landis walk out of Sports Authority with a baseball bat without paying for it.

Police sources tell us Landis then approached the woman while she was loading up her car in the parking lot and hit her in the back of the head with the baseball bat.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told KHON2 she had just finished shopping for groceries and was minding her own business when she was knocked unconscious. “I got whammed in the back. I didn’t even see him coming or anything,” she said. “I just saw him walking and that’s it, and I got hit on the head because my back was towards him. I know I fell down, but I don’t remember falling down.”

When she came to, the woman said she saw a man rummaging through her car. She says she started screaming and he ran off.

“I could see him in my car in the backseat trying to find whatever was in there, but there was nothing there,” she said. “I had my bag on my shoulder, (and I was) hanging on to it for my dear life. He wanted to take something out of my bag, but he didn’t get anything. I was just hanging on to my bag and I just kept yelling and yelling and yelling.

“I don’t remember going down or anything, but I sat up and I was all bloody. Blood here, bloody pants, everywhere is blood, and I am holding my head because it was sore,” she added.

Security officers and Honolulu police arrived shortly after and arrested Landis just a few blocks away on Ala Moana Boulevard.

The victim was taken to Straub Clinic and Hospital, where she says she received 12 staples in the back of her head. She has since been released.

The incident has many asking, why was he released in the first place? Police would not confirm whether Landis remained a suspect in the initial murder case.

KHON2 took their concerns to lawmakers to find out what can be done.

“It’s disturbing and it makes me angry, especially when you suspect that it might be a potential murderer who had at one point in time been in police custody,” said Sen. Will Espero. “This is something we certainly as lawmakers have to look into and see how we can better protect our community.”

As for the victim, she’s just happy to be alive. “I was the lucky one that survived this,” she said. “I just cannot believe it happened to me and I don’t wish this on anyone.”

Ward Gateway Center
Ward Gateway Center

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