Mother of Chinatown shooting victim holds on to positive memories

Tara Tevaga

The family of the woman shot and killed in the Chinatown robbery Saturday is speaking out.

Tara Tevaga, 49, was shot in the chest at Cuties Cafe early in the morning. A man was also shot, but he is expected to survive.

We spoke with Tevaga’s mother, Regina Tauala, and she said her daughter was someone who tried to stay positive no matter the circumstance.

“I was woken up at 2 in the morning with a phone call saying that there’s been trouble at the game room and Tara got shot,” Tauala said.

When she and the family rushed to the hospital, they waited to be with Tara, but her injuries were too much. “That’s when the doctor finally came out and said that she lost too much blood.”

Tauala said her daughter didn’t have any enemies. “She always helped the underdog or helped those who are being badgered by others to protect them.”

She says Tara’s willingness to take a stand may have played a part in her death — after speaking with others at the hospital, Tauala said Tara may have been trying to thwart the alleged robbery when she was shot.

“I believe that’s what happened,” she said.

Now only left with pictures and memories, Tauala hopes people will remember her daughter how she knew her best.

“I’m going to remember Tara for her beautiful smile, and she was so loving and caring,” she said.

Police arrested 30-year-old Alabanza Tuimalealiifano around 6 p.m. Saturday, who is suspected of firing the fatal shot inside Cuties Cafe. He remains in custody pending further investigation.

The HPD is investigating the shooting as a robbery and is looking into the Chinatown venue as a possible illegal gaming room.

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