Hilo, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
It was a day like any other at Tom Moyer’s Windward Pharmacy at the Puainako Town Center in Hilo on Tuesday, until he found himself in a life or death struggle with an armed robber who was demanding drugs and wielding a loaded 30.06 bolt-action rifle.
As Moyer recounts in this video, the lengthy (and terrifying) grapple over the rifle led to suspect Paul Santoro – a 28 year old Puna man – being disarmed, and later arrested at the pharmacy for his actions.
The 57 year old Moyer had some help from his pharmacy employees. Hawaii County Police say two of the pharmacy employees were injured during the incident. A female employee sustained an injury to the back of her head when she was allegedly struck by the suspect. The male pharmacist sustained lacerations to his hands. Both refused treatment.
On Thursday, police announced Santoro was charged with 16 crimes in connection with the robbery attempt: robbery in the first degree, three counts of terroristic threatening in the first degree and one count each of assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, place to keep a loaded firearm, place to keep ammunition, permit to acquire a firearm and registration mandatory.
Police later discovered the rifle used by Santoro was taken in a home burglary on Monday, February 22. Santoro was charged additionally with one count of burglary in the first degree and one count of theft in the first degree.
Detectives also served a search warrant on a bag recovered from Santoro on the day of the robbery. The search warrant yielded 16 rounds of 30.06 ammunition as well as some small items reported taken in the burglary.
Police say a small amount of marijuana and a glass pipe with marijuana residue also were recovered from the bag.
Moyer says he recognized Santoro from prior visits to the pharmacy. Moyer says Santoro would often purchase syringes, a legal non-prescription transaction in Hawaii.
Police report that Santoro’s bail was set at $223,300. He is being held in the Hilo police cellblock.
Police ask that anyone with information about this case call Lieutenant Mitch Kanehailua at 961-2252, or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona.