Cops bust hair stylist and VB players for ignoring COVID-19 restrictions
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Police arrested three people over the weekend on allegations that they failed to comply with the requirements set by the government during the Governor’s declaration for the COVID-19 enforcement.
The three people arrested include a businessman who owns a beauty salon in Faleniu and two male individuals who were arrested on a volleyball court across from Lupelele Elementary.
The three defendants spent Mother’s Day at the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) before they appeared in District Court this Monday morning for their initial appearances.
The three defendants — Christian Lozano (businessman); Sola Malae and Jasibel Sofeni, were each charged with one count of violating the State of Emergency declaration, a class A misdemeanor under A.S.A.C 13.0323, punishable by imprisonment terms of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
All defendants were released on their own recognizance. Each was ordered to comply with all of the requirements set by the American Samoa Government (ASG) for the COVID-19 Lockdown, make all of their court appearances and not attempt to leave the territory without a written order of the court.
Pretrial hearing is now set for next month.
It was on May 9, 2020 about 7:40p.m when police at the Tafuna Substation received a call from an anonymous caller reporting that a beauty salon in Faleniu was still operating its business after 6p.m, which is the curfew time based on the ASG Emergency Declaration.
Several police officers responded to the call and noticed that several vehicles were parked at the side and back of the business building. Officers also observed that the door window was draped with a black material, making it hard to see inside.
Officers knocked on the door, but nobody came to the door. Officers continued to knock and at the same time identified themselves as police officers. A few moments later, the door was finally opened and officers observed that approximately 6 women with curlers in their hair were waiting to have their hair combed out.
Officers asked for the owner of the business, and a man came forward and identified himself as Christian Lozano, the owner of the business.
When questioned by officers why his business is still operating beyond the time the ASG declares all businesses in American Samoa must close, Lozano, a stylist, told officers that he was doing a favor for the mothers who came to him asking to have their hair fixed for Mother’s Day.
Lozano apologized to police officers for what happened and immediately asked for another chance to continue on with his last 6 customers. Officers informed Lozano that this is not the first time they have warned him regarding his business and its seems like he continues to ignore their advice.
Officers immediately closed down the Beauty Salon and advised all customers who were waiting inside to go home, because the owner was under arrest and was going to be remanded into the custody at the TCF until the next sitting of the court.
During the process of the investigation, Lozano requested another chance to allow him to return home. He told investigators that the reason why he did it was because he loves his customers and he wanted to offer his service to these mothers to prepare them for Mother’s Day. He also told investigators that it would be his mother’s birthday on Mother’s Day.
A senior police officer who asked to stay anonymous told Samoa News that this is not the first time Lozano was advised against operating his business beyond the time stated by the ASG declaration.
THE TWO VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS
It was on Saturday afternoon, May 9, 2020 when the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) received a call from a man saying that a volleyball game was happening at the volleyball field across from the Lupelele Elementary School with over 20 young people involved.
Two police units with several police officers inside responded to the call and observed the situation.
A majority of young men involved in the volleyball game fled the scene when they saw police units approaching the area. Police officers noticed that not only were they playing volleyball, they also had a BBQ going — along with alcohol.
Two men who were at the scene were taken into the TPS for questioning. They were Sola Malae and Jasibel Sofeni.
According to the government’s case, this is not the first time police have warned these people to stop their volleyball game because the government has banned all large groups of people from gathering due to the Governor’s State of Emergency for the COVID-19.
SEVERAL BUSINESSES RECEIVED WARNING
Several businesses around the island have received warnings from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) about non compliance with the Government’s State of Emergency.
A senior police officer confirmed to Samoa News that four Asians businesses received a warning from their team last week after there were suspicions they were operating their businesses beyond the designated time.
Aside from businesses owners, police officers also advised two bus drivers last week to comply with requirements of the COVID-19 or otherwise they would be arrested and charged.
According to the senior police officer, they don’t want the public to think that officers are doing their job in a forceful manner. However, if the public doesn’t want to comply with the requirements of the COVID-19, officers will arrest those who are not in compliance.
“We humbly ask members of the public, businesses owners, bus drivers and everyone to please let us work together to protect American Samoa from the coronavirus by abiding to all the requirements given by our leaders. We don’t want to arrest you but if you don’t want to comply, then, officers will enforce the law,” said a senior police officer who asked to remain anonymous.