KAHALA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A man is dead after he fired a shotgun at police, who then fired back.
The incident began as a car break-in. According to Honolulu Police, a witness reported two men stealing a car in the University area at around 3 p.m. Thursday. The witness was able to give a vehicle description, and the maroon colored Honda was spotted in the Aina Haina area about ten minutes later.
Police said the two men in the car got out after it hit a guardrail on Kalanianaole Highway near Ainakoa Avenue in the Kahala area. One of the men was armed.
"Officers were pursuing the suspect on foot when he turned and fired at them," said Deputy Police Chief Randy Macadangdang at a press conference Thursday evening.
Police did not hit the suspect at that time.
Witnesses couldn't believe what they saw next.
"All I saw was this guy with a shotgun, and then he was running, from I don't know what, but i think it was from the cops, probably," said Stephanie Chew, who was walking from Kalani High School. "All of a sudden after that, he was banging on this truck, and then the cops stopped him and a few shots were fired."
"The suspect was in the process of trying to steal another vehicle when an officer in a marked police car drove between the armed suspect and the driver," Macadangdang said of the pickup truck.
"The suspect again fired at the officers, who returned fire, striking the suspect," added Macadangdang. Police said officers fired "multiple shots" at the suspect, who was hit "multiple times."
Traffic cameras at Kalanianaole and Ainakoa showed police arresting the suspect, who was taken in critical condition to Kuakini Medical Center, where he died a few hours later, police said. Maj. Richard Robinson said the suspect was shot multiple times.
The second suspect was identified only as a 35 year-old man with an extensive criminal record. He also tried to flee the scene.
"The second male ran in the makai direction to a residential area, where he punched a driver and stole a car," Macadangdang said. "Officers were able to stop the suspect and take him into custody."
The driver of the pickup truck and the driver who was punched by the second suspect were slightly injured, but did not require medical treatment.
Police shut down Kalanianaole Highway during the initial investigation and detoured vehicles around the area, tying up traffic for miles in both directions. Officers said one of the reasons for the shutdown was that the stolen car had hit other vehicles during the chase, and police had to investigate what they called multiple car accidents along the freeway.
Police said four officers were involved in the shooting. Two of them had four years' experience on the force, one had five years, and one had been on the force for two years. All have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in these cases.
Officials said this case showed that there is no division between property crime and violent crime.
"This was just an auto theft when those officers stepped out of their car," said police Maj. Richard Robinson. "And then 30 seconds later, they're in a gun battle fighting for their live and fighting to protect the people around them."