Robbery, stealing and assault case: One suspect behind bars, another on the loose
One of two suspects in a robbery case has been arrested on charges of robbery, stealing and third degree assault, in connection with the case of a Korean couple claiming they were assaulted by two men who allegedly broke into their store.
The arrested man is Don Fred Bernard, while the second suspect is still at large and Samoa News understands he’s currently in Samoa.
Bernard is being held on bail of $50,000 and is represented by Assistant Public Defender Mike White.
According to the government’s case, Detective Filemoni Amituana’i was assigned to investigate this matter. It's alleged on May 30, 2013 police received a call from a Korean couple seeking immediate assistance and police responded.
Court filings say the Korean woman told police she and her husband were robbed and assaulted by two men who covered their faces with their shirts, showing only their eyes. The woman further told police that one of the men was tall, the other was short, and it was the short man that she recognized as a customer.
Police officers picked up Bernard for identification, however the Korean woman was unable to proceed with the identification process as she was very “distressed, crying and traumatized” from the incident. Police then released Bernard to go home.
On June 6, 2013 the lead investigator received a tip from an anonymous caller that there were witnesses who placed Bernard and the second suspect at the scene. “The caller said as soon as Bernard and the second suspect saw them (the witnesses) they hid boxes that were in their possession.”
CID proceeded to speak with the two witnesses who wrote statements to police, and their statements coincided with a list of items that were removed from the store, which included 12 cartons of cigarettes, multiple phone cards valued at $350 and $30 worth of quarters.
The Korean woman told police it was in the middle of the night that she and her husband heard noises coming from outside the store when they were sleeping, and they woke up and turned on the lights surrounding the store and they saw two men right outside their store.
According to court documents, the shorter suspect allegedly smashed the front door window with a rock, while the taller individual reached in and unlocked the door. The man told police the taller suspect came straight to him and he defended himself by striking the tall suspect with a stick. However, it is alleged the tall suspect grabbed the stick from the Korean man and broke it, then allegedly held him by the neck to the ground.
The man stated that the tall suspect told him to stay down and not to move or make any noise, or he would kill him.
The man said at the same time he heard his wife screaming for help yet he was unable to see what was going in because he was being held to the ground. The Korean woman said it was the shorter suspect that came toward her, but she was able to escape and she ran outside the store, where she saw a car passing by. She said she yelled for help, but the car just kept on going.
It’s alleged the defendant pulled the woman by the hair and dragged her back into the store. Court filings say, the short suspect then called out to the woman by name and demanded that she get the money. It's alleged the short suspect then took off the shirt covering his face and the woman turned the lights on and recognized him as a customer.
The woman told police as soon as she recognized the short suspect, Don (Bernard), she begged him not to hurt her husband. It's alleged the defendant demanded that she turn off the lights and then started taking the cigarettes and other merchandise, and called out to the tall suspect that they should leave.
Police were able to identify the first man as Bernard and the second suspect as Winnville Galo,from Seattle Washington, who was visiting his aunt living in the area where the incident occurred.
Court filings say that CID Detectives questioned Galo, a week after the incident, who allegedly admitted to committing the said crime. It's reported that Galo said he was playing volleyball when he was approached by Bernard and that they were in a drinking session.
It's alleged that what Galo told police corroborated the statements made by the couple to police.
An Arrest Warrant has been issued in Galo’s name.
Court filings say the estimated value of items taken in this robbery case is approximately $1,120.
The Bernard’s case is pending in High Court.