Total of HPD officers killed on duty now at 50
The deaths by gunfire Sunday of Honolulu police officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama brought the department’s fallen-heroes count to 50.
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The deaths by gunfire Sunday of Honolulu police officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama brought the department’s fallen-heroes count to 50 and increased the percentage of those shot to more than a third of the group.
There were nearly 17 years between the last Honolulu police shooting and Sunday’s incident. Enriquez and Kalama were shot and killed while responding to an apparent tenant-landlord dispute at a Diamond Head house that turned into a multihome blaze, which left the shooter and his landlady missing.
Officer Glen A. Gaspar died March 4, 2003, when he physically restrained a suspect who had drawn a handgun. While on the ground, the suspect drew his gun and fired three shots at Gaspar.
It’s been more than 56 years since the last double homicide by shooting of
Honolulu police officers in the same incident. On Dec. 16, 1963, Honolulu police officers Andrew Morales, a five-year HPD veteran, and Abraham Mahiko, a recruit with only four months on the job, were killed working the midnight shift on a robbery and burglary detail. They were patrolling Cooke and Kawaiahao streets in Kakaako when they came across suspicious males casing a warehouse and were ambushed by gunfire.
As many as 16 Honolulu police officers have been killed in the line of duty by shooting since 1903, when officer John Mahelona was shot by a suspect whom he had accompanied to a secluded location to recover chickens.
It’s far more likely for
Honolulu police officers to die in traffic accidents. Since 1851, the first recorded death in the line of duty for Honolulu police, 12 officers have died in car crashes, 11 in motorcycle crashes, four in helicopter accidents, one during a traffic encounter with a cow and another in a horse accident.
Also, two officers were killed by knives, one died from a heart attack during a fight, another died during a scuffle that ended when he hit his head on a rock, and one was electrocuted.
Enriquez is the only woman to have been killed in the line of duty. To date, only about 12% of HPD officers are women, including Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard.
But no matter the cause of death, every killing of a police officer is painful for the communities they protect, their families and their extended ohana — other law enforcement members who are part of the “thin blue line” responsible for holding back the chaos.
Dave Benson, a retired HPD major who spent 31 years here before he worked in Vermont as a police chief and deputy sheriff, said police killings hit close to home. Benson still recalls how he felt in 1963 when Mahiko, who was in his HPD recruiting class, was shot and killed. Benson said he’d originally had Mahiko’s assignment but had been reassigned.
“It could have very well have been me,” he said. “I was part of the capture afterwards. I had nightmares for a while. It really bothered me. I’d see it over and over and over again.”
Benson said there’s a bond between police officers that transcends departments or even geography.
“It’s not just here; it’s everywhere. When I was chief on the mainland, someone would get killed and there’d be a 10-mile long procession of police officers coming to say goodbye,” he said. “We’ve also had police officers from other states come to funerals here, and we’ve had officers go to the mainland for funerals.”
To be sure, Sgt. Ray Stynes of the Northbridge Police Station in western Australia and his wife, Pasqueline, interrupted their Hawaii vacation Monday with a stop at HPD headquarters to visit a memorial and pay their respects. The two left police patches from their home among the flowers.
“It’s like losing a family member even though you might not know them. I’ve trained some that have been killed in my arms. It affects me to this day. All of us that wear the blue uniform, we’re a huge family worldwide,” he said. “We all put on the uniform and go out to work just like anyone else. We understand the dangers. … The blue shirt doesn’t shield you; it’s not like a Superman outfit.”