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Hawaii island police identify Pahoa woman fatally shot by officers

Hawaii island police fatally shot a woman during a traffic stop Tuesday morning in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision of Pahoa.

Police positively identified the woman as 30-year-old Tori M. Kaneshiro of Pahoa.

“It’s a tragic loss,” said her cousin Kama Kaneshiro, who deferred further comments to her immediate family.

At about 7:45 a.m., officers stopped to check on a car on the shoulder of Kahakai Boulevard near the intersection of Kikou Street with its hazard lights on, according to a news release from the Hawaii Police Department.

One of the responding officers made contact with the woman in the vehicle and determined that she had an outstanding bench warrant. The officer told her that she was going to be arrested because of the warrant.

Police said she refused to get out and instead jumped into the rear of the vehicle. She allegedly grabbed a rifle and refused to drop it despite repeated orders by officers to do so.

Hawaii Police Department Maj. Sam Thomas said the woman pointed the rifle at the officers and one of them shot her.

Officers administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid to the woman and she was taken to Hilo Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. The officers were not injured.

The woman was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

As is standard procedure, the officers involved will be placed on administrative leave during the police investigation of the shooting.

Late this afternoon the police department issued a news release saying, “The officers present, as the events unfolded, have have 12, 11 and less than a year of police service,” indicating three officers were involved.

Police also said in the news release that “the initial officer fired his duty weapon, injuring the female.”

Police closed Kahakai between Olao and Kikou streets as they investigated this morning.

This is the second officer-involved shooting in Hawaiian Beaches in two weeks.

Officers responded to a report of a 42-year-old man, later identified as Bert E. Mercado, who had stabbed himself with a knife at a home on Kahakai Boulevard at about 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 27, according to police. When officers arrived, Mercado allegedly confronted them and grabbed a rifle. Officers ordered him to drop the firearm but Mercado instead allegedly pointed the rifle at police at which time four officers fired their weapons.

Mercado retreated into the home and officers evacuated nearby residents. The police department’s Special Response Team arrived and attempted to communicate with Mercado but there was no response.

Officers entered the home at about 7 p.m. and discovered him dead.

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