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Pago calling for curfew after gang violence lands youth in hospital

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A fight between members of a youth gang in Pago Pago early Sunday morning landed one man in the hospital with severe neck injuries. Meanwhile, police are trying to wrap up their reports for an arrest warrant for two gang members believed to have been the ones who caused the injuries to the victim.

Sources from the LBJ Hospital confirmed to Samoa News that a young man was admitted early Sunday morning for severe neck injuries caused by a sharp object, and he was immediately admitted to the surgical ward for an operation. In addition to deep lacerations on his neck, the victim also sustained bruises to his facial area.

Samoa News understands that due to the lacerations on the victim's neck being deep, an operation was needed immediately to close up the wound.

The injuries are not life threatening, according to a Samoa News source, who added that it is however severe and can cause permanent effects to the victim’s health. The victim has been discharged from the hospital and he’s now with his family in Pago Pago.

A family member of the victim confirmed to Samoa News on Monday evening that the victim is now home but he can hardly move his head.

“If he wants to turn to you, he has to turn his whole body around so he can face you and talk to you. That’s how severe the injuries are — but we thank our Heavenly Father that he’s still alive and able to communicate with us,” the family member said.

According to a DPS source, the incident was reported to police by a villager who saw what was happening. The caller told police that several young men, who appeared to be drunk, were fighting and yelling profanities at each other, while others were throwing beer bottles on the road.

Two police units responded to the call a few moments later but no one was arrested.

The fight started in front of the recently burnt H&H warehouse in Pago Pago — on the corner of the turn-in to Coleman Elementary School — and then shifted to the main road in front of the T.M. Laundromat.

An eyewitness told Samoa News that before the fight started, there was a drinking session between members of a youth gang in Pago Pago called “K.C.” (which stands for ‘Kalepe Crew”) Saturday night.

It was during the wee hours of Sunday morning that the fight broke out between members of the gang. Two of them were fighting and eventually, one other gang member jumped in to help his cousin who was struggling against his opponent, who was the victim.

According to the witness, the gang member who jumped in to assist his relative used a sharp piece from a broken beer bottle to allegedly stab the victim in the neck multiple times.

A villager told Samoa News that other gang members were fighting while others were shouting profanities and sounding off with the warrior cry (fa’aumu) which alarmed nearby residents, resulting in people waking up and coming out to see what was going on.

According to a witness, two police units arrived along with the EMS, and the victim was taken to the hospital for treatment.

The villager told Samoa News that all the gang members who were allegedly part of the drinking session and the fight fled the scene when police units arrived. The villager further stated that the Pago Pago Mayor tried his best to assist cops but was unsuccessful.

“I was thinking the two police officers who were the first to arrive on the scene would be able to catch the young men who were involved … but unfortunately, the pair found it hard to chase the young men. They [the young men] were fast and fit but the officers were slow and barely ran. It’s frustrating and sad to see that these young men are still at large, despite the fact that another young man was severely injured and had to be admitted to the hospital,” a village member said.

A matai from Pago Pago told Samoa News that the village council needs to revisit their decision on a village curfew, to make sure these types of unwanted behavior do not occur.

“If the Pago Pago village council doesn't do something, these types of incidents will continue to happen. The school year is almost over and summer is around the corner. So, it will be a lot harder for the village mayor and the village police to control these young men and their behavior, unless the village council allows the untitled men to start up the evening curfew again,” the village matai said.

A DPS source confirmed to Samoa News that one of the arrest warrants is ready, and all of the gang members who were allegedly involved will be arrested and charged accordingly.