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Schofield soldier dies in police shooting in Waikiki

By Gordon Pang and Gregg Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 4:41 a.m. HST, Jan 16, 2013

Police officers shot and killed a Schofield Barracks soldier who apparently drove recklessly through the streets of Waikiki and was shot by responding officers on Ala Wai Boulevard early this morning.

Three officers were treated for minor injuries and then released, police said at a news conference today.

The incident began just before 4 a.m. and involved two shooting scenes, one on Kuhio Avenue near Nahua Street, and the final location on Ala Wai Boulevard near Seaside Avenue.

The Army confirmed that the driver of the dark blue Dodge truck involved in the incident was an enlisted soldier, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. The Army is withholding the identity of the soldier pending notification of next of kin.

Police also would not identify him.


» HPD press conference

The series of events began when patrol officers on foot on Kuhio Avenue and Nahua Street noticed a truck speeding in the wrong direction on Nahua Street this morning, Police Chief Louis Kealoha said.

“The truck crossed Kuhio and stopped briefly on the sidewalk where officers approached the vehicle,” he said. “The vehicle then reversed back onto Nahua, turned onto Kuhio, and accelerated toward an officer.”

Kealoha continued: “The officer fired multiple shots at the truck as it drove towards him, narrowly missing him.”

A police source said the officer who fired was near the PlayBar, formerly Scruples, at the time he engaged with the suspect.

The truck then drove onto Lewers Street and onto the sidewalk as two officers attempted to stop him, Kealoha said. “The truck continued onto the Ala Wai Boulevard where it struck two parked vehicles and a pole,” he said.

Patrol vehicles then converged and blocked the truck between Lewers and Kaiolu streets.

“The suspect began ramming several marked vehicles before officers fired, striking the driver,” the chief said.

No one else was in the truck, police said.

Police blocked off Ala Wai Boulevard to vehicular traffic until noon today as police completed their investigation.

Los Angeles visitor Patricia Tence thought she was back home where shootings and car chases regularly occur when she heard a police officer yell: "stop" early this morning from her 11th floor apartment on the Ala Wai Boulevard.

"I was up at 4 because of all this banging," she said.

Tence went to her balcony and saw at least 20 police cars surrounding a truck on the street fronting her building.

"He apparently came down Lewers (Street) and hit two parked cars and then kept ramming the police cars."

Tence said she got scared when she heard shots being fired. "It was so loud. I thought I was back in L.A. with this car chase happening right below me."

Poese Vatikani left his apartment on Lewers Street after hearing sirens and multiple gun shots.

He arrived at the crime scene to watch an ambulance pull up.

"I saw them place him on the gurney and take him into the ambulance to try to resuscitate him."

Paramedics took a man in his 30s to the Queen’s Medical Center, where he died, officials said.

Vatikani said police were able to shoot out the front right tire of the truck.

"You could hear it screeching down the road as he tried to get away."

Ala Wai area resident Pat Bigold said he woke up to the sound of multiple emergency sirens and witnessed the shooting through his binoculars.

He said while his vision was blurred by the blue lights of police cars, he estimates he heard up to 20 shots.

Bigold, who lives on the 20th floor of a condominium located across the canal from the Ala Wai Boulevard, said at least 20 police cars responded to the incident.

“We always hear commotion here,” Bigold said. “I live on the 20th floor of the Kaimana Lanais condo building. Sirens every night, throughout the night. But what made this different was the rising crescendo of sirens and then the sound of a series of collisions. This was the driver trying to break the police enclosure. I got to the balcony just a moment before police opened fire. Sounded like a barrage of fire and I would guess up to 20 shots were fired, but I could be wrong on the estimate. There is some echo across the canal. 

“It was a pretty good job by HPD to contain a dangerous situation so quickly.” Bigold said.

Bigold said he videotaped the suspect lying on the ground without a shirt until paramedics took him to the hospital.

Several hours after the shooting, police were still at the scene collecting evidence and taking pictures of the scene.

A pickup truck could be seen boxed in by several police cars. Some of the police cars were damaged, apparently in some sort of collision with the truck.

Maj. Richard Robinson, head of the Criminal Investigations Division, said five patrol vehicles were damaged.

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