A man shot and killed two police officers Sunday as they responded to a home in a leafy neighbourhood beneath the rim of a famed volcanic crater near Waikiki Beach, authorities said.
The officers were responding to an address where the homeowner, Lois Cain, had recently sought to have a man evicted, court records showed. A neighbour told The Associated Press she saw Cain being loaded into an ambulance with knife wounds.
Cain’s condition was not immediately confirmed, nor was the suspect’s. Flames emerging from the home soon spread to several others. Honolulu fire said five homes were “complete losses.”
“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,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell tweeted. “This is an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawaii.”
Normally Peaceful Neighbourhood
The normally peaceful neighbourhood where shots were fired is at the far end of the Waikiki Beach between the Honolulu Zoo and the famed Diamond Head State Monument, a volcanic crater that looms above Honolulu and is popular with tourists and hikers. A regional park is also nearby.
Ian Felix, a Honolulu resident and combat veteran with medical training, told the AP he happened to be walking by 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 neighbour’s garage across the street, he said.
According to court records, the man living in Cain’s home was Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel. Neighbours described him as mentally disturbed.
“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 last week in court. “Despite repeated demands, Defendant has failed and refused to vacate the premises.”
Never Known to Be Violent
Attorney Jonathan Burge has represented Hanel since 2015 in various disputes with neighbours, including temporary restraining orders that three obtained against him. Hanel, a native of the Czech Republic who used Czech interpreters in court, faced a hearing next week on a charge of 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.
“Maybe that’s what set him off,” he said of the eviction.
Hanel lived for free at the home in exchange for handyman work, Burge said. Cain was supportive of him in his disputes with the neighbours, Burge said, but their relationship had soured lately because Hanel’s dog had died and Cain wouldn’t let him get a new one.
Heard Screaming and Gunshots, Says Resident
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 neighbours 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.
Officials across the state began releasing statements mourning the lost lives, with Gov. David Ige saying, “Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning.”
Police closed several streets nearby and asked the public to avoid the area.
(Published in an arrangement with Associated Press.)