Pipe bombs, grenades found in apartment that led to Kalihi area evacuation

More than three dozen pipe bombs and several grenades were recovered in Sunday’s incident that led to the evacuation of a Kalihi apartment complex.

According to a statement released by the Honolulu Police Department, a caller reported finding items that appeared to be pipe bombs and grenades while cleaning out a deceased relative’s apartment shortly after noon Sunday. After assessing the scene, the building’s residents were notified to evacuate the premises and area residents were instructed to stay indoors.

SWAT’s bomb squad arrived around 2:30 p.m. and rendered the building and area safe for re-entry at approximately 7:30 p.m.

The explosives appeared to be live and were taken for further analysis. HPD has initiated a prohibited explosives investigation.

It wasn’t just the apartment residents on Pohaku Street who were impacted: All of the street’s residents makai of North School Street were not allowed in or out when the bomb squad secured the scene.

Area resident Alexander Malabey said, “I got home, and next thing you know, the cops were knocking on the door asking us to evacuate.”

“They told us we had to evacuate because there was bomb equipment somewhere,” said Maureen Otsuka.

Families in the other homes on the street had to stay put and those trying to get back in were denied entry.

Police said at the time that items were found in the apartment unit of a man who was ex-military.

For hours, building residents stood on the sidewalk waiting, some in disbelief.

“It’s a close-knit building,” Malabey said, “so we are kind of shocked that it was from his apartment.”

“We didn’t really know that he had all this equipment or anything like that,” said Otsuka. “He didn’t seem like that kind of a person.”

“Now you think, what the hell is in the other apartments?” said Malabey.

After about three hours of waiting outside, relief came as HPD asked for a city bus to come and take the evacuees to Lanakila District Park where the American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter in the gym. About 50 people were accommodated at the site.

Due to the hasty evacuation, apartment residents didn’t have much with them.

“We just grabbed whatever we could,” Otsuka said. “My husband was able to grab his walker and we put on his shorts and away we went.”

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