HONOLULU (KHON2) – What escalated Sunday from a routine landlord-tenant dispute into the fatal shooting of two officers and a blaze that destroyed an entire neighborhood has sent shockwaves through the Honolulu community.
Just after 9 a.m. Sunday, a 911 call for help was the first sign of trouble on Hibiscus Drive in the Diamond Head area of Honolulu.
“The initial responding officers found a female who had been stabbed in the leg,” said Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard.
The landlord just days before had filed in court for eviction of Jerry Hanel, and he had been served notice Thursday. Police say Hanel had attacked the landlady and another woman, stabbing them with a three-pronged garden tool.
“Two additional officers arrived and the three were walking down the home’s driveway when the suspect opened fire,” Ballard said, “shooting Officer Enriquez.”
That was officer Tiffany Enriquez, a mother, and 7-year HPD veteran.
“Two other officers were forced to take cover,” Ballard said. “As more officers arrived to assist the suspect fired at the second group of officers and fatally struck officer Kalama.”
That was officer Kaulike Kalama, a father with 9 years of HPD service.
Both died from gunshot injuries. They were wearing protective vests but were struck in areas not covered by the vests, Ballard said.
“On behalf of the men and women of the police department,” Ballard said through tears, “our deepest condolences go out to the families of officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama.”
As more and more units arrived, thick black smoke began coming out of the home; authorities say Hanel started the fire, but it is not yet known whether any explosives were also used.
“There were in fact what sounded like rounds going off,” Ballard said. “We can’t put other public safety and our fire department in jeopardy, because if they got hit by one of those stray rounds I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night.”
As rounds continued to sound — whether by gunfire or by ammunition in the home popping off in the flames — firefighters were held back.
“Kudos to HPD to make sure that the firefighters would be safe when we fight the fire,” said Honolulu Fire Department Chief Manuel Neves. “So we weren’t allowed in until they felt we were safe. That’s HPD’s call.”
But in the time that elapsed the fire completely consumed 7 more homes nearby, and damaged many more.
“We don’t have exact times,” Neves said. “We got called later and the incident actually escalated once we got there.”
Authorities believe Hanel likely never got out.
“Once everything is cooled down and it’s safe for the first responders to go in, then we’ll go in and they’re trained to do this,” Ballard said. “They’re trained to go through this type of situation and look for remains that may be there.”
As of 5 p.m. Sunday, two adult females were last known to be on the same property as Hanel — a home split into various rental areas — were unaccounted for.
“At this time they were in the home,” Ballard said. “That’s still going to be part of the investigation.”
In the past 5 years at least seven restraining orders had been filed against Hanel by several different people, some of them neighbors. He had been arrested last year for misuse of 911. He has a reported history of mental illness. Hanel was a familiar face to officers, including Enriquez.
“They knew of the suspect and had responded to that residence on several occasions and were aware of him,” Ballard said, “and he had never acted out with the officers.”
The chief says a weapon was not recovered, and that Hanel does not hold any gun permits.
Enriquez and Kalama were the 49th and 50th killed in the line of duty in the history of the Honolulu Police Department.
“They were like my kids,” Ballard said, “with me for five years at the receiving desk when I was a major down there. So when they first came to the department until the five years I was down there and I made chief, I knew each one of them personally.”
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