7 Homes Burn After Shooter Kills 2 Honolulu Officers

18 hours ago

Updated 1/19/20, 9:22 p.m.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard says it may take several days to process the Diamond Head area crime scene where two Honolulu police officers were shot and killed Sunday morning. After the shootings, a fire broke out, eventually engulfing seven homes in the area.

Three people are still unaccounted for, including the shooting suspect, 69-year-old Jerry Hanel.  Ballard said authorites would continue to search for him, but that it was likely that Hanel was inside one of the homes that burned. 

Ballard's voice cracked with emotion at a Sunday news conference as she described the fallen officers.

"They were like my kids," she said. The two worked with her when Ballard was a major on the receiving desk.

Both seven-year veteran Tiffany Enriquez and nine-year veteran Kaulike Kalama were parents, and Ballard said she knew both of them well.

The violence began at about 9:30 Sunday morning at a house on Hibiscus Drive where Hanel was being evicted. Police say he stabbed and wounded his landlady, identified as Lois Cain, in the leg. Cain had recently sought to have a man evicted, court records show.

Officers responded to a 911 call and Hanel opened fire, killing two officers and wounding a third. He then set the house on fire. Honolulu Fire Chief Manny Neves said the flames spread quickly, destroying seven houses and damaging "multiple others."

Ballard says Hanel was known to police through a history of incidents.

Court records show he was facing proceedings later this month for making false 911 reports. A neighbor told HPR's Catherine Cruz that several people had filed restraining orders against him.

Attorney Jonathan Burge, who represented Hanel in a number of disputes with neighbors, said his client was a native of the Czech Republic who used Czech interpreters in court. He said Hanel was "kind of a quirky guy and had problems," including a belief that he was being tracked by the government.

“Maybe that’s what set him off,” he said of the effort to evict Hanel.

Ballard told a news conference that Hanel did not have any permits to own firearms. Besides Hanel, police are also looking for two others who are unaccounted for -- both are women who were believed to be in the house at the time of the fire. 

Ballard said authorities would continue to search for the shooter, but that it was likely that he was inside the home when it burned.

Cruz, who was at the scene, spoke to witnesses of the shootings. Watch the videos below.

Hanel lived for free at the home in exchange for handyman work, Burge said. Cain was supportive of him in his disputes with the neighbors, Burge said, but their relationship had soured lately because Hanel’s dog had died and Cain wouldn’t let him get a new one.

Nearby resident Dolores Sandvold said she heard screaming and gunshots and saw Cain being carried to an ambulance. She said she was led out of the area and wasn't allowed back into her home.

Kailua resident John Farmer said the fire spread to his sister’s nearby house, which burned down. He said the resident has been described as paranoid and threatening.

The last time a Honolulu police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty was 2003.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell called the killings of the officers "an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawaii."  Gov. David Ige issued the following statement to media on Sunday:

“Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning. As we express our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues, let us also come together to help and support those who have been forever changed by this tragedy.”

This is a developing story. Please check back later for further details. The Associated Press contributed to this report.