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Man arrested after allegedly shooting at man, hitting vehicle instead

American Samoa District Court building
Defendant denies incident happened

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man allegedly armed with handguns was arrested by police and he’s now being charged.

Talipope Pauga Aniseko made his initial appearance in District Court last week.

He is charged with one count of 1st degree assault, a class A felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than ten nor more than thirty years; one count of unlawful use of firearms, one count of 1st degree property damage, and one count of resisting arrest, all class D felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years, a fine up of $5,000, or both.

Bail is set at $50,000.


The government alleges that on Sept. 11, 2020 about 1:35 p.m, several police officers patrolling in the Futiga area heard a loud bang coming from a dirt road on the south side of Futiga. A few moments later, officers heard voices of an unknown individual yelling profanities, coming from the same location of the loud bang.

As officers approached the area, they observed a maroon pickup truck parked on the dirt road. Officers also saw an unknown male, later identified as Talipope Pauga Aniseko, the defendant in this case.

Aniseko was yelling and standing near a red SUV that was parked south of the maroon pickup on the same dirt road.

Two police officers exited the police unit and immediately approached Aniseko, asking him multiple times what had happened, but Aniseko refused to answer or cooperate with officers and continued walking towards the truck.

While Aniseko was walking towards the pick up, he turned back and said to police officers in a loud tone, “O le a? O ese!” (What? Move!).

Aniseko got into driver’s side of the truck and turned on the ignition. As officers approached Aniseko, the driver of the SUV yelled out to officers to watch out because Aniseko had a gun on him. The driver of the SUV was later identified as Harry Faavae.

Immediately after Faavae alerted officers about the gun in Aniseko’s possession, officers instructed Aniseko to turn off his truck and step out from the vehicle.

Aniseko did not comply with officers and instead reversed his vehicle onto the east bound lane of the Futiga road and continued driving his vehicle heading east.

Officers immediately contacted the Fagatogo Police headquarters requesting backup, and then proceeded to initiate a vehicle stop. Aniseko pulled his pick up in front of U.S Mart in Futiga where an unknown female got into the front passenger’s seat.

Officers did not approach Aniseko while waiting for back up, due to the possibility of Aniseko being armed with a gun, choosing to follow Aniseko’s vehicle and observed it turning onto a concrete road in Futiga heading towards the landfill.

Officers followed Aniseko’s vehicle with their vehicle, with blue and red emergency lights and siren engaged.

Aniseko’s vehicle was observed stopping near the Happy Trucking compound and he waved to officers to follow him into the dark area heading to the landfill. Officers disregarded this and called off the pursuit of Aniseko’s vehicle due to poor visibility and officers’ safety.

Officers returned to the scene after they were made contact with Faavae at his residence and observed damage to his SUV.

In a statement to police, Faavae stated that he was driving his vehicle out of his driveway to drop off one of his friends, when a pickup truck turned into his driveway and struck his vehicle. He thought that the truck might have had brake failure, so he reversed his vehicle, but the truck struck his vehicle again.

He then opened his door and called out to the driver of the truck, asking if he was okay. He was shocked when he saw the driver was Pope, also known as Talipope Pauga Aniseko, (the defendant in this matter), who exited his truck and walked straight at him (Faavae) with two handguns aimed at him.

Faavae got out of his car and used his vehicle’s door as a shield to push back Aniseko. Furthermore, Faavae stated that Aniseko yelled out to him, “ua e sekia a’u” (you set me up). That’s when Aniseko fired a shot at him (Faavae) which missed him on the right side of his facial area and shattered the back window of his truck.

That’s when Faavae saw the police vehicle pass by, stop, make a U-turn, and proceed to their location. Aniseko then walked back to his vehicle when the police vehicle pulled into their location.

Faavae further stated to police that there were three of them inside his SUV. He then named the other two people who were with him during the alleged incident. One of them was seated on the passenger seat while the other was sitting in the back seat behind the front passenger.

Both male individuals witnessed the alleged incident and police interviewed them.

One witness told police that Aniseko’s vehicle struck Faavae’s vehicle two times. Aniseko then exited his vehicle and approached Faavae on the driver’s side, while yelling at Faavae asking why he (Faavae) set him (Aniseko) up.

The witness told police that Aniseko was holding two handguns while speaking to Faavae. Faavae exited his vehicle and walked over to Aniseko, however, according to the witness, he was shocked when the first gun went off and the bullet went through the driver’s side and exited through the back window.

According to the second witness’ statement to police, Aniseko’s vehicle struck Faavae’s vehicle two times. A few moment later, Aniseko exited his vehicle and walked toward Faavae holding two handguns. That is when the second witness opened the door and ran away from the car.

Seconds later, he heard a loud bang coming from the location of the SUV.

A few hours later on the same day, several armed police officers went to Aniseko’s residence to confront him regarding the incident. Officers were able to made contact with Aniseko at his residence where he walked towards officers holding a bush knife (machete/ ’sapelu’).

An armed police lieutenant instructed Aniseko to drop the machete but the defendant continued walking towards officers.

The armed police lieutenant then raised his voice while instructing Aniseko to drop the bush knife. Aniseko was about 10 feet away from officers when he finally dropped the machete.

Officers questioned Aniseko about the incident and Aniseko stated he did not know anything about it. Aniseko was later transported to the Tafuna Police Substation for further investigation.