Survivor recalls ‘murderous rage’

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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WHERE THE SHOOTING HAPPENED: The house where the fatal shooting took place at Faleula-uta.

WHERE THE SHOOTING HAPPENED: The house where the fatal shooting took place at Faleula-uta.

Two young men say they owe their lives to a courageous Alatasi who was shot and killed at Faleula-uta last week.

Sione Emara and Ropati were on their knees pleading with the gunman, Sale, to spare their lives when Alatasi walked in. 

He confronted the gunman and when he couldn’t persuade him to change his mind, he offered his life instead so the two could be spared.

In tears, Sione described Alatasi, who hails from Poutasi Falealili, as a “courageous man who saved our lives.”

“We owe our lives to him,” said Sione. “We would have been dead. We thought we were dead because Sale was a mad man in murderous rage but Alatasi was our guardian angel.”

Ropati and Sione, who are cousins, said they still couldn’t believe what transpired that night.

 “When I finished work that Friday, I called Ropati to meet me at the house where Sale is staying for a catch up and a few drinks as usual,” Sione said.

 “Sale is staying there to look after one of our relative’s land; usually that is where we meet for drinks. We are related, blood and flesh.”

That evening when Ropati and Sione went to the house, Sale was not there.

“So we sat down but not long after, we saw Sale come back. He was really drunk. He started talking and asking all these questions. He also asked for a beer and we chatted not knowing anything would happen.”

Later, Sione said Sale told Ropati to fetch the gun from inside the toolbox.

“We were surprised when he asked us to go bat shooting. We told him we needed to go home as it was getting late but that made him really angry.

“He turned around and pointed the gun at Ropati’s forehead. I thought he was joking but he wasn’t. 

 “He was sitting on a chair and he told us to get on our knees. When I was trying to ask him what he was doing, he told me to shut up because he was about to shoot Ropati.”

Sione said any alcohol he might have had quickly disappeared as the sobering reality of what was happening sunk in.

 “We were on our knees, in tears,” he said. “We were shocked, I felt like I wasn’t drinking alcohol at the time. I was begging him to please not to do anything,

“I pleaded with Sale, I said ‘please Sale, don’t kill Ropati, he’s just a kid, please Sale…don’t kill him.

 “Then he turned to me, and put the gun on my forehead as we both kneeled with our hands over our heads. I was crying. All I was thinking at the time was God to help me.

 I was thinking about my mother, my sisters and brothers. My body was numb, I was totally lost and shaken.”

It was at that time when Alatasi arrived.

“The voice I heard was a man,” said Sione. “We didn’t know who he was because we were on our knees with our backs to where he was coming from.”

Sione said he heard Alatasi tell Sale to stop what he was doing.

“When he saw that Sale was not changing his mind about shooting us, he pleaded with him to spare us as we were only boys but to shoot him instead.

 “At that point, Sale told him to open his mouth. He put the gun there and shot him on the spot.”

The shot felled Alatasi.

 “We were both shaken,” said Sione. “But the moment Sale stood up to pull the body of the man to the other side of the house, we fled and called the police.” 

Ropati’s mother, who asked for her name not to be published, said she is grateful to Alatasi for sparing her son’s life. 

“As a mother and a family member, this is really shocking,” she said. “I cannot bring myself to imagine what would have been if my son had been shot.”

The mother said Sale is not a bad person and they can’t work out why he did what he did.

 “Sione and Ropati both understand that Sale is not a dangerous person to hang around with especially he’s one of our relatives. 

“He’s a hardworking young man, he always provides for his family. He’s a father as well to his three children. We’re not so sure what made him act this way.”

According to Ropati’s mother, one of the saddest aspects of the shooting is the fact Sale’s 3-year-old son witnessed it.

 “The very next day, Sale’s son was murmuring and recalling every single action his dad made that night. He’s just a young boy but he captured everything,

“If you ask him, he’ll explain it all…that Saturday after the incident on Friday night, he kept saying: “dago daddy, fana dama, dodo uma…pau lalo dama…dodo gutu (daddy shot man, blood all over, he fell and blood coming from his mouth). 

Police Media Officer, Maotaoali’i Kaioneta Kitiona, confirmed the shooting, saying the accused man faces a murder charge.

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