SRT shooting (update) 12-17-09

Hawai’i Police Department
Office of the Chief
Harry S. Kubojiri
Phone: 961-2244
December 17, 2009
Report No. C09036202

Media Release (update)

Big Island police are still working to locate and notify the family of a 60-year-old Puna man who was shot Wednesday (December 16) after he discharged a firearm numerous times and threatened police with a gun. The shooting followed a standoff of nearly 10 hours. Once family members have been notified, police will release his name to the public.

Puna patrol officers initially responded to a 2:52 a.m. report Wednesday of shots being fired from within a home in the Kehena Beach Estates subdivision in lower Puna. As they approached the house, responding officers confirmed numerous additional shots being fired. They secured the perimeter of the property, where the man had barricaded himself inside the house.

The Police Department’s Special Response Team (SRT) was notified at 4 a.m. and took over the scene at 6:51 a.m.

Shortly after 8 a.m., Highway 137 was closed in both directions between the 19- and 20-mile markers. To ensure the safety of innocent bystanders and neighbors, police evacuated the immediate area. Because gunshots were still being fired from inside the house, some civilians were taken to safety in the SRT’s armored "Bearcat" vehicle. Highway 137 remained closed until nearly 4 p.m.

The SRT’s Crisis Negotiations Team began negotiating with the barricaded man but were unable to maintain a dialogue because of his unwillingness to participate. Throughout the incident, shots continued to be heard from inside.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the barricaded man exited the house brandishing a machete. As officers attempted to get him to peacefully surrender, he pulled out a concealed firearm. During a struggle for control of the weapon, shots were fired, including one from the man’s gun. Specific details are still under investigation.

Emergency response personnel at the scene treated the man for injuries sustained in the shooting. He died a short time later.

Police recovered the machete and a .22 caliber revolver.

An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday (December 18) to determine the exact cause of death.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are continuing criminal investigations into the gunman’s actions and the officers’ response. In addition, the Internal Affairs Division is conducting an administrative investigation. As is standard with any police-involved shooting, the officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.

"While I am saddened by the loss of human life," said Chief Harry Kubojiri, "preliminary reports indicate that the officers involved were justified in their actions and that they acted reasonably given the circumstances."

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