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Honolulu Police Chief Asking How Suspect In Officer's Shooting Got Gun

Amy Nakamura/HPR
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard raised questions on Tuesday about how a previously convicted criminal -- now the suspect in the shooting of a police officer -- got a hold of a handgun.

The officer was shot while investigating a credit card fraud case at a Pokai Bay home on Monday. 

When the officer entered the house, the suspected shooter stepped out of a closet and immediately fired at the policeman, Ballard said. Shots hit the officer in the hand and chest. 

The suspect was shot by a second officer after he pointed his gun at that officer, the police chief said.

The injured policeman remains in critical but stable condition. The suspect, identified as 47-year-old Tony Souza, is in serious condition but is also expected to survive.  

Ballard said Souza was arrested on a first-degree attempted murder charge. He was previously convicted of second-degree attempted murder among other crimes, including abuse of a household member and parole violations.

Ballard questioned how the suspect was able to obtain a gun given his criminal record.

“When you have someone who has already been convicted of attempted murder, and now, they have a firearm, they’re a danger to the community as well,” Ballard said. “It’s very frustrating to the officers, and to us, that someone like this is out on the road.”

Souza is also facing gun-related charges stemming from the Monday shooting. Ballard said she expects more firearm charges will follow. She also said Souza was not the man police were seeking in the credit card fraud case.

While the Honolulu Police Department has not publicly identified the wounded officer, he is a six-year veteran of the force. The second officer who fired at Souza has worked for HPD for 13 years. 

HPD is continuing to investigate the criminal case. The department is also looking into whether all officers involved were wearing protective body gear. 

“This incident is a somber reminder of how quickly things can change,” said Ballard. “All of this occurred within a couple of seconds.”

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