Puna man charged after Big Isle hitchhiking trip turns violent in Hilo fast-food parking lot

Hawaii County police arrested a 33-year-old Puna man Friday after he allegedly went from hitchhiker to carjacker last Wednesday during a late evening stop at a Hilo fast-food restaurant.

Lawrence Kekoa Botelho, 33, was arrested at a convenience store in Orchidland on Friday, one day after Big Isle police recovered a vehicle belonging to a 34-year-old man who had picked up Botelho while he was hitchhiking in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

The two arrived at the Puainako Town Center shortly before midnight Thursday, upon which Botelho “began acting erratically, yelling at the victim, and verbally threatening to kill him,” according to police, who said he was also reportedly seen with a pistol and two knives in his hands during the incident.

After the 34-year-old exited his vehicle, fearing for his life, Botelho got behind the wheel and left the area before police arrived. Officers found the vehicle on Thursday afternoon in Panaewa, unoccupied.

Following his arrest on Friday by Puna patrol officers, Botelho was charged Saturday with first-degree robbery, first-degree terroristic threatening, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, kidnapping, and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug. His aggregate bail was set at $130,000.

Botelho was also arrested and charged on an outstanding warrant for a probation violation, police said. He was scheduled to appear before a judge today at Hilo District Court.

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