Update 5:00 p.m.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a Hawaii island police officer.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean L. Kaul announced the award today for the arrest of Justin Joshua Puamoiwalei Waiki.
The FBI said Waiki, 33, shot Big Island officer Bronson Kaliloa in the neck and leg during a traffic stop Tuesday night. Waiki then fled into nearby brush on foot.
Waiki is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, 160 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. He has a tattoo on the front of his neck. He should be considered armed and dangerous, the FBI said.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call Hawaii County Crime Stoppers at 808-961-8300 or 808-935-3311.
HILO >> A manhunt is underway for a 33-year-old man after the fatal shooting of a Hawaii island police officer in Mountain View Tuesday night.
Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa, 46, was gunned down allegedly by the suspect identified as Justin Joshua Waiki.
“This is probably the worst day in my 36-year career as a police officer,” said Hawaii Police Chief Paul Ferreira at an emotional press conference held today at the Hawaii Police Department headquarters in Hilo.
Kaliloa is the first officer of the police department shot and killed in the line of duty.
At about 9:47 p.m. on Highway 11 in the area of Kukui Camp Road, officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with the Hawaii license plate ZGG-879 operated by Waiki. Though his last known address is Las Vegas, Ferreira said he is a Hawaii island resident and has previously lived in upper Puna, lower Puna, Hamakua and Hilo.
He was wanted on an outstanding no-bail warrant for failing to meet conditions of his bail. Officers obtained information that Waiki was on the shoulder of Highway 11.
When officers approached the vehicle, police said Waiki exited the driver’s seat and fired multiple shots with what is believed to be a handgun, striking Kaliloa in the neck and leg.
Two other responding officers immediately returned fire, but Waiki fled on foot into nearby brush. There was no evidence of Waiki being struck by any bullets.
Highway 11 between Ala Loop and Kulani Road was closed until around noon due to the active investigation.
Police are focusing their search around Kukui Camp Road.
Medics transported Kaliloa to Hilo Medical Center where he underwent surgery. Ferreira choked up at the news conference when he said Kaliloa was pronounced dead at 12:45 a.m. today after lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful.
“I am the chief and I am responsible for this officer’s life and I take it very seriously,” said Ferreira, who donned a black band over his badge. “I had to meet with his wife and his father at the hospital and it was very difficult. But we will persevere and we will do what we need to do to make the community safe.”
In a written statement, Gov. David Ige extended his condolences to Kaliloa’s family and colleagues. “He was a highly regarded 10-year veteran of the Hawaii Police Department who will be greatly missed. As we mourn this tragic loss, let us honor officer Kaliloa and all men and women in blue for their bravery and commitment to keeping our family and communities safe,” Ige said.
In February 2015, Kaliloa’s peers honored him with the 2014 Puna Patrol Officer of the Year award.
During his career, he was also recognized as “Officer of the Month” twice by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaii. In October 2012, the organization honored Kaliloa for his investigative skills where he solved a July burglary case.
On July 14, 2012, he had been assigned to a report of a break-in at a residence in the Nanawale Estates Subdivision. Earlier, at a briefing at the start of his shift, Kaliloa learned a suspect of a string of burglaries in Puna had been arrested for multiple traffic offenses following a crash. When police arrived at the Nanawale home, Kaliloa noticed similarities in the Puna burglary cases involving the man arrested for the traffic violations.
Kaliloa conducted an investigation and obtained a search warrant of the suspect’s vehicle. Officers recovered several items inside the car belonging to the Nanawale burglary victims.
In April 2014, the Aloha Exchange Club honored him as “Officer of the Month” for the second time for his investigative skills after he helped nab a dangerous convicted felon, who was armed with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun, in the Maku’u Hawaiian Homes subdivision.
During the news conference, Ferreira stood near two large television screens that displayed a photo of Kaliloa. “This was a father, son and a husband,” he said.
A 1990 graduate of Waimea High School on Kauai, Kaliloa joined the Hawaii Police Department on Aug. 1, 2008. He started in the South Kohala district and in 2010, transferred to the Puna district.
Kaliloa is survived by his wife of 23 years, two sons and a daughter and his parents who reside on the Big Island.
Ferreira said the two officers who returned fire at Waiki have been placed on administrative leave with pay, as is standard procedure.
Waiki has a criminal record of 37 prior arrests and 16 convictions, three of which were felony convictions of promotion of a dangerous drug, forgery and ownership or possession prohibited of a firearm.
He is described as 5 feet 11 inches and about 145 pounds. Waiki was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and dark-colored jacket. The public is advised not to approach him as he is considered armed and dangerous.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call police at 911, 935-3311 or CrimeStoppers at 961-8300.
Individuals may also call Det. William Brown of the Criminal Investigation Section at 961-2384 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fallen officers of the Hawaii Police Department:
>> Manuel R. Cadinha, 42, killed March 19, 1918 after Jerry de Lima fatally struck him on the head with an thick ohia stick while Cadinha was serving de Lima a warrant at Hakalau. De Lima was charged with murder in the death of Cadinha, who died of a skull fracture.
>> William L. Oili, 37, died Nov. 19, 1936 in the line of duty while trying to rescue two men from drowning.
>> Ronald S. Jitchaku, 52, died May 7, 1990 after he and other officers attempted to stop a fight and disperse a crowd of up to 200 people on Banyan Drive the day before. Blaine K. Faris of Hilo reportedly threw his elbow toward Jitchaku’s face, causing him to fall backward and strike his head on the pavement, causing his death. Faris was sentenced to 10 years in prison for Jitchaku’s death.
>> Kenneth K. Keliipio, 35, was killed March 28, 1997 while in the line of duty when his vehicle was struck by a car driven by off-duty officer Jeffrey Darrow who had left a police recruit graduation party. Darrow’s blood-alcohol level was 0.11 percent, slightly over the legal limit of .08 percent. He was convicted of drunken driving and negligent homicide and sentenced to probation.
>> Bronson K. Kaliloa, 46, was fatally shot and killed July 18, 2018 on Highway 11 in Mountain View after he and other officers responded to a traffic stop in the area of Kukui Camp Road on the night of July 17. Justin J. Waiki allegedly fired multiple shots at Kaliloa, striking him in the neck and leg. Kaliloa was transported to Hilo Medical Center where he died at 12:45 a.m. July 18.
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin archives, Honolulu Advertiser archives and Hawaii Police Department.