Suspect in fatal shooting of Hawaii island police officer dies in a shootout
  • Wednesday, May 22, 2019
  • 83°
Hawaii News

Suspect in fatal shooting of Hawaii island police officer dies in a shootout

  • (Video: Andrew Gomes)

    The Hawaii Police Department concludes the search for suspect Justin Waiki.


    A convoy of police vehicles Friday approached a roadblock at South Point and Kamaoa roads. A nearby shootout between Hawaii Police Department officers and suspect Justin Waiki left an officer injured and Waiki dead.


    Motorists on Thursday evening were stuck in a queue about a quarter-mile long on the south side of Mamalahoa Highway near Honaunau. The Hawaii Police Department had barricaded Honaunau after shots were fired at police from suspects in a fleeing Toyota Tacoma truck. A man and a woman were taken into custody as police continued to search for fugitive Justin Waiki.


    Police killed Justin Joshua Waiki, left, in a shootout Friday. The 33-year-old was suspected in the fatal shooting Tuesday night of Hawaii island police officer Bronson Kaliloa, right, in Mountain View.


    The Toyota Tacoma truck that was involved in a car chase and shootout with Hawaii police on Thursday was towed from private property on Kealamakua Place on Friday.


    Hawaii Police Department officers gathered around a woman for support outside of the Hilo Medical Center on Friday. An HPD Special Response Team officer was wounded three times in a gunfight with fugitive Justin Waiki in the South Point area of Kau. The shootout left Waiki dead when other officers fired in return, and a woman was injured.


    An HPD Special Response Team officer walked to a truck at the roadblock situated at South Point and Kamaoa Roads on Friday.

An intensive four-day manhunt for the suspect who gunned down a Hawaii island police officer ended Friday in a shootout at South Point that left the suspect dead and two others, including a second police officer, wounded.

Acting on a tip regarding the whereabouts of Justin Waiki, the man believed to have killed officer Bronson K. Kaliloa during a traffic stop in Mountain View on Tuesday, police stopped and searched a sport utility vehicle at a checkpoint in the South Point area of the Kau district around 2:45 p.m., according to Hawaii Police Department Chief Paul Ferreira.

Waiki allegedly opened fire on the officers, wounding a sergeant assigned to the department’s special response team.

“The other officers at the scene returned fire immediately, resulting in the death of Waiki,” Ferreira said in a prepared statement.

The wounded officer, a 12-year veteran of the department, was transported in stable condition to Hilo Medical Center with gunshot wounds to his upper right torso, right arm and right hand.

A woman who was reportedly hiding in the SUV also sustained a gunshot wound and was taken to Hilo Medical Center. Her condition was not released.

Ferreira said three other people were arrested at the scene on suspicion of first-degree hindering prosecution.

“Once again, the men and women of the Hawaii Police Department rose to the occasion in keeping our community safe,” Ferreira said. “You can sleep well tonight knowing that the search is over for the individual Justin Waiki who took the life of officer Bronson Kaliloa days ago.”

Ferreira thanked HPD personnel as well as federal, state and local law enforcement partners for their work in apprehending Waiki.

Friday’s fatal shootout was the culmination of an increasingly tense week for Hawaii island residents, one that began when Waiki, a 33-year-old repeat felon wanted on an outstanding warrant for failing to meet his bail conditions, was stopped on Highway 11 near Kukui Camp Road in Mountain View.

According to police, Waiki exited the driver’s seat and opened fire with a handgun as officers approached, striking Kaliloa in the neck and leg. Two other officers returned fire, but Waiki was able to escape on foot into the nearby brush.

Kaliloa was transported to Hilo Medical Center, where he died hours later following emergency surgery.

A decorated officer twice honored as officer of the month by the Aloha Exchange Club, Kaliloa is the first Hawaii Police Department officer shot and killed in the line of duty. He is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter and his parents.

The search for Waiki intensified over the ensuing days as more than 20 HPD officers and federal agents were assigned to a special task force to find him. The U.S. Marshals Service; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation each pledged $10,000 for information leading to Waiki’s capture. Hawaii Island CrimeStoppers offered an additional $2,000 reward.

Police believed they were closing in on Waiki late Thursday afternoon when they received a tip at about 4:58 p.m. that he might be inside a pickup truck in a parking lot on Henry Street in Kailua-Kona.

According to HPD Maj. Sam Thomas, officers spotted a pickup truck near Ka­haluu Beach in Kailua-Kona matching the description of the vehicle around 5:19 p.m.

They approached the truck and observed a man in the driver’s seat and a woman in the passenger’s seat. Police ordered them to exit the vehicle, but the driver allegedly sped toward the officers. Thomas said an officer fired three gunshots at the pickup truck.

The vehicle was traveling westbound on Napoopoo Road when the driver steered toward another officer, who then fired 10 rounds at the suspects. Thomas said the suspects, later identified as Harvey Damo Jr. and Shevylyn Klaus, both 25, continued on and eventually abandoned the truck in a coffee field in Honaunau before escaping on foot.

Officers scoured the area and eventually located the two Hilo residents. Damo and Klaus were arrested on suspicion of second-degree theft involving a Toyota pickup truck.

Damo was treated at Kona Community Hospital for a minor gunshot wound and later released into police custody.

The officers involved in both shootings Thursday and Friday were placed on administrative leave in keeping with standard procedures for officer-involved shootings.

HPD spokesman Alan Richmond said police are investigating whether Damo and Klaus are connected to Waiki.

“Word is they somehow had contact with him or were associated in some way,” he said.

Lt. Sherry Bird of the HPD’s Criminal Investigation Section added, “We’re still working to confirm if (Waiki) was or wasn’t there. I don’t want to call it a case of mistaken identity. The information that was given to us is what we had to work with at the time.”

Lengthy record

Waiki had a criminal rec­ord of 37 arrests and 16 convictions, three of which involved felony promotion of a dangerous drug, forgery and ownership or possession of a prohibited firearm.

In November authorities extradited Waiki to Hawaii island from Las Vegas for violating conditions of his probation.

According to court rec­ords, 3rd Circuit Judge Glenn Hara sentenced him to a year in prison for third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug. Waiki also was sentenced to 18 months for the firearm conviction. The prison terms were to run concurrently with credit for time served. Hara also ordered Waiki to four years of probation.

In September 2016 Hara revoked Waiki’s probation after he failed to report to and meet with his probation officer in March and June of that year. According to his probation terms, he was prohibited from leaving Hawaii island unless he obtained permission from his probation officer or the court.

At the November hearing Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto set Waiki’s bail at $7,000 and ordered him to appear in court in March. Waiki was released after posting bail. In April a bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to make his scheduled court appearance.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Michael Tsai, Kristen Consillio, Rosemarie Bernardo, Cindy Ellen Russell, Timothy Hurley and Andrew Gomes contributed to this report.

Comments (33)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up