A neighbor told the Associated Press that a woman who had filed days earlier to evict the alleged shooter left in an ambulance with stab wounds.
The two slain officers were Tiffany Enriquez, who was with the Honolulu police for seven years, and Kaulike Kalama, who was on the force for nine years, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a news conference Sunday. Police had yet to find the suspect Sunday evening but think he died in the fire.
The violence, which unfolded near Diamond Head State Monument crater and the Honolulu Zoo, marked the first time since 2003 that a Honolulu police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty, the AP reported. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell (D) called it “an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawai’i.”
“They were like my kids,” Ballard said of those slain, according to local media. “They were with me for five years at receiving desk when I was major there.”
The suspect, 69-year-old Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel, had a history of clashing with his neighbors. A judge granted two of them restraining orders that Hanel was in the process of appealing, said Jonathan Burge, a lawyer who has represented him in many disputes since 2015. The neighbors claimed Hanel was harassing them by following them and taking pictures, he said.
The restraining orders meant Hanel was not allowed to possess a firearm, Burge told The Washington Post. How he may have obtained one is “anybody’s guess,” he said.
The attorney says Hanel lived for years in a property owned by Lois Cain, the woman who was reportedly stabbed. Hanel did odd jobs but otherwise paid no rent — an arrangement that Burge does not know the origins of and that Cain wanted to end because she had returned to Hawaii and needed her own place to live, according to the lawyer. Her relationship with Hanel also “soured” when she forbid Hanel from getting a new dog, he said.
The lawyer thinks Cain — whose condition is not clear — may have been delivering an eviction notice Sunday. Cain alleged in a Wednesday court filing that Hanel had refused to leave her property “despite repeated demands.”
“Defendant does NOT have a Rental Agreement to occupy the premises and Defendant has no ownership interest in said premises,” her recent complaint against Hanel states.
Hanel was also about to appear in court for a misdemeanor charge of abusing the 911 system, according to Burge.
“He was always one of those quirky, solitary guys,” Burge said of his client. “He felt the government was watching him, tapping his phone, things of that nature. But he never said anything about doing this kind of violence.”
“I’m in a lot of shock myself,” added the Honolulu attorney, a former police officer.
Local leaders, too, were reeling at the weekend’s tragedy. City Council member Kymberly Marcos Pine (D) said she was praying for the families of the officers who were killed and “all who were injured during the Diamond Head incident today.”
“It is terribly upsetting to see the recent increase in crime and we grieve with HPD and other first responders who put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Pine said in a statement.
A woman in the neighborhood posted Facebook Live videos showing a SWAT team member crouching behind a wall next to her. Popping noises were heard in the background.
“I was walking my dogs, and now we’re down under siege,” she said. “This has never happened before here.”
The blaze spread to at least one police car in addition to homes, according to Hawaii News Now and the Star-Advertiser. Video captured residents trying to battle the flames with hoses.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said some of its agents responded to the shooting scene.
Gov. David Ige (D) said that all of Hawaii mourns the officers.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the fire spread at Waikiki Beach rather than near the beach.