A series of carjackings and break-ins committed in several neighborhoods by two desperate men preceded the exchange of gunfire that led to the death of one suspect in East Honolulu on Thursday afternoon, according to details released by police yesterday.
In the end a 28-year-old man released from prison only months ago lay dying on Kalanianaole Highway while his accomplice, who has an even longer criminal record, was arrested a short distance away.
The suspect shot fatally by police was identified by the city Medical Examiner’s Office as Mark Ahnee of Mililani. Charged last night with two counts of second-degree robbery and one of first-degree robbery was Michael Edward Manning Jr., 35, of no permanent address, who was being held on $250,000 bail.
Family and friends of Ahnee, meanwhile, described him as a man who was trying to turn his life around after nine years in prison.
Police are still trying to piece together all the details and could not say late yesterday how many vehicles had been damaged in the incidents. Authorities are also looking into the possibility that Ahnee and Manning were the same men who tried to rob the Zales jewelry store at Waikele last Saturday.
The events Thursday began at about 2:40 p.m. when two men believed to be Ahnee and Manning stole a parked vehicle from the Kukui Plaza condominium complex downtown, police said.
They drove to Pensacola Street, took another parked vehicle, then went to Kamehameha Avenue, near the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, detectives said. There a witness called 911 after seeing two men breaking into another vehicle.
Police said they believe the men then drove to Bingham Street in McCully where they took a third vehicle, a purple 1990s Honda Civic, and headed east onto the H-1 freeway where responding patrol units began following them.
The chase apparently accelerated after the suspects and patrol cars reached the end of the H-1, and spilled onto Kalanianaole Highway. After crashing into a barrier about 200 yards beyond Ainakoa Avenue, the two men left the Civic and ran in opposite directions, police said.
Ahnee, who police believe was driving the Honda, ran back toward Kahala while carrying what was described as a sawed-off shotgun with a defaced serial number. He attempted unsuccessfully to hijack a flatbed truck, then continued west along the highway, police said. He fired one round at a pursuing officer and confronted the driver of another truck. When he pointed his gun at the truck’s driver, a responding officer drove his vehicle toward him.
Ahnee was able to avoid the officer’s car and fired another round, which struck a blue-and-white squad car, police said. At that point officers fired, and Ahnee was struck in the torso several times, police said. He died a short time later at a nearby hospital.
Meanwhile, police said, Manning ran into the nearby Waikui Street neighborhood next to the Waialae Country Club, assaulted a man and took his vehicle. He sped back onto Kalanianaole and onto Moomuku Place in Kuliouou where he struck several parked vehicles, police said. Manning confronted a man and demanded his car keys while threatening him with a screwdriver, police said.
He apparently then headed back west on Kalanianaole and ended up in Aina Haina on Nenue Place near Holy Nativity Church where police finally captured him at 3:30 p.m., about 50 minutes after the first alleged auto theft.
Maj. Richard Robinson, HPD’s head of criminal investigations, said at a news conference Thursday night, "I think this shows there really is no division between property crime and violent crime."
The Hawaii Paroling Authority issued a warrant for Ahnee’s arrest just a half-hour before Thursday’s shooting, said Administrator Tommy Johnson.
Ahnee was on parole for two 2002 second-degree burglary convictions when he tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana use April 7, Johnson said.
He was on probation for auto theft when he committed the burglaries, according to his criminal record.
Johnson said Ahnee was ordered to undergo substance abuse assessment and was scheduled to meet with his parole officer at 2 p.m. Thursday to go over the results and explore his options. Ahnee failed to show up for the meeting.
At 2:30 p.m. the Paroling Authority issued the arrest warrant.
Manning was arrested and charged with breaking into and stealing a motor vehicle Jan. 19. He pleaded not guilty in Circuit Court five days later.
He was released from custody March 9 after posting $20,000 bail. He had previously spent time in prison for auto break-in, burglary, assault and terroristic threatening.
Ahnee had been staying with his sister, Cammy Roberts, two years his senior.
Roberts said her brother "got into trouble here and there" as a youth and spent some time in foster care but was always a loving person.
Even when he stole things, Roberts said, he would give everything to people around him and not keep anything for himself. "He would give the shirt off his back to anybody."
Ahnee was intelligent, loved to read and showed potential as a sketcher, she said. "He could draw anything," his sister said, and gave her sketches for her birthday, even when he was incarcerated.
He appeared to stay sober and clean of drugs the first few months after the got out, Roberts said. He recently enrolled in Heald College and was to start class Thursday. But after starting to hang out with old friends in the last month and a half, he appeared more withdrawn and distant, she said.
Roberts said she does not think her brother meant to hurt anyone. She dismissed speculation that he was high when he was killed and knew what he was doing, pointing out that he had vowed to her he would never return to prison.
"I know what he did was wrong," Roberts said. "I feel like it was better that he died than any innocent person … but I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye."
Kaneohe resident George Preston, 26, once shared a cell with Ahnee and described him as his best friend.
The two had gone bodysurfing with another friend about a month ago. "He looked clean to me," he said.
"To me he had a bright future coming to him and setting positive goals for himself. He was a good guy. I guess drugs got the best of him."
Star-Advertiser reporters Nelson Daranciang, Gregg K. Kakesako and Rob Shikina contributed to this report.