HILO >> Law enforcement officers from across America showed up in their dress uniforms today to mourn Bronson Kaimana Wei Mun Kaliloa, the first Hawaii County police officer shot and killed in the line of duty.
They were joined at Hilo’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium by firefighters, county, state and federal law enforcement officers and top government officials from across the islands.
Hundreds of others, dressed more casually in aloha wear and slippers, spent hours filing past a display that included Kaliloa’s cremains and a portrait of the 46-year-old police officer, who died July 18. The solemn line of mourners reached so far out the door of the auditorium that the service was delayed 35 minutes to let everyone enter and pay their respects.
Also in attendance was Gov. David Ige, who ordered flags to fly at half-staff today at state offices and the Hawaii National Guard in Kaliloa’s honor, and Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
“We’re all from the same family,” Caldwell said before the start of service. “When something happens, we come.”
Kaliloa was gunned down the night of July 17 during a traffic stop in Mountain View. He died a few hours later at Hilo Medical Center. The suspect, Justin Waiki, was killed four days later during a shootout at a police checkpoint in Kau.
The married father of three joined the Hawaii Police Department in 2008 and was named Puna patrol officer of the year in 2014. The honor came with the chance to spend six months working with plainclothes detectives in the department’s special enforcement unit, according to Maj. Samuel Jelsma, Puna District commander.
Kaliloa twice turned down the opportunity.
“Bronson truly loved being in uniform,” Jelsma said. He called Kaliloa “a truly great Hawaii police officer.”
Kaliloa was born in Greeley, Colo., on Jan. 26, 1972, and moved to Kauai at age 11.