Two Honolulu police officers were fatally shot on Sunday morning near Diamond Head and the suspect is believed to have caused fires that destroyed several houses in the neighborhood, police said.
A man inside a house fired on officers Sunday morning as they responded to an assault call at 3015 Hibiscus Drive in the Diamond Head neighborhood, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said during a press conference late Sunday afternoon.
The officers were responding to an address where the homeowner, Lois Cain, had recently sought to have a man evicted, court records showed. A neighbor told The Associated Press she saw Cain being loaded into an ambulance with knife wounds.
The two slain officers — Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama — responded to a 911 call about 9 a.m. on Hibiscus Drive. Both were struck above the vest by the shooter.
“They were like my kids,” HPD chief Susan Ballard said of Enriquez, a seven-year veteran, and Kalama, a nine-year veteran, both of whom worked with Ballard when she was a major in the department. Both officers had children, she added.
The officers were taken to The Queen’s Medical Center.
The stabbing victim is still in serious condition, according to Ballard.
Seven structures were completely lost to the fires with at least a dozen others affected. It’s not clear what caused the fires, or if they were set by the shooting suspect, police said.
Police identified the shooting suspect as 69-year-old Jerry J. Hanel.
Ballard said police are uncertain about what type of weapon was used. Hanel had no permits to own a gun, she said.
Ballard said the Criminal Investigation Unit is still searching for Hanel, though they believed he remained in his home, which was completely destroyed by flames. “We will continue the search for Hanel until we’ve confirmed his remains are recovered,” she added.
Two other women who are believed to have lived in the same house remain unaccounted for, Ballard said.
Flames emerging from the home soon spread to several others.
Hanel was served an eviction notice by Cain, his landlord, last week.
“Defendant does NOT have a Rental Agreement to occupy the premises and Defendant has no ownership interest in said premises,” read a complaint for eviction that Cain filed. “Despite repeated demands, Defendant has failed and refused to vacate the premises.”
Attorney Jonathan Burge has represented Hanel since 2015 in various disputes with neighbors, including temporary restraining orders that three obtained against him.
Hanel, a native of the Czech Republic who used Czech interpreters in court, faced an upcoming hearing on Tuesday for misusing 911 services, Burge said Sunday.
Burge said he never knew Hanel to be violent, but that “he’s kind of a quirky guy and had problems.” Hanel believed the government was watching him and tapping his phone, Burge said.
Hanel appeared to be in a years-long dispute with one of his neighbors. Court records show that he allegedly shoved or kicked Warren Daniel, a resident of Hibiscus Street, in 2014.
Daniel tried several times to get a restraining order against Hanel, but it was denied.
Ian Felix, a Honolulu resident and combat veteran with medical training, told the AP he happened to be walking by the house Sunday morning when he saw a woman lying on the ground with a pool of blood coming from her leg.
He applied pressure until the first police officer arrived and put a tourniquet on it, Felix said. Moments later two more officers arrived, and Felix said he then heard two gunshots.
He and the officer picked up the wounded woman and carried her into a neighbor’s garage across the street, he said.
Gov. David Ige sent out this message on Twitter: “Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning, As we express our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues, let us also come together to help and support those who have been forever changed by this tragedy.”
Mayor Caldwell tweeted, “This is an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawai’i.”
I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the two officers as well as the entire Honolulu Police Department. This is an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawai’i.
It was a shocking morning for a neighborhood where the average home price is well over $1 million and residents are more used to Sundays with slow jogs and long walks with their dogs through Kapiolani Park.
It was also a shock for tourists, who stopped by when they saw the black smoke billowing from Hibiscus Drive.
Nearby resident Dolores Sandvold said she heard screaming and gunshots and saw Cain being carried to an ambulance. She said she was led out of the area and that she had yet to be allowed back into her home.
Kailua resident John Farmer said the fire spread to his sister’s nearby house, which burned down. He said neighbors were saying that law enforcement responded after a resident described as paranoid and threatening attacked the mother of a family that had been living upstairs.
Dozens of HPD cars filled Paki Avenue throughout the morning as the Honolulu Fire Department tried to stop the fires from spreading.
Police cordoned off a perimeter several hundred yards away from homes on Hibiscus Drive. Several families were evacuated and getting assistance from police.
The two shooting deaths bring to 50 the number of Honolulu police killed in the line of duty.
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Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell