Shots fired during Big Island arrest involving suspected car thief

Shots fired during Big Island arrest involving suspected car thief

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island police arrested a man after firing shots on Sunday morning when a suspect allegedly tried to drive through officers in an attempt to flee.

A few minutes before 9 a.m. on Sunday, Big Island police were looking for a suspect in connection to a stolen vehicle when they found the stolen 2002 Toyota Tacoma with a man standing next to it. The man, 32-year old Joseph Paul "JP" Branco of Puna, and the truck were on a road access point between Waimaka O Pele Road and Pikake Street.

Officers on the scene told Branco they were taking him into custody when the suspect allegedly got into the stolen truck and sped toward officers.

Officers say there was debris and brush blocking them on both sides, so they had no choice but to shoot at the vehicle in an attempt to stop Branco from hitting them.

Police said the officers fired 13 shots. Bullets hit the car's roof and windshield in the gunfire, but Branco was not injured.

The suspect was then taken into custody and police later found a rifle, pistol, and 47 grams of what is believed to be crystal meth in the vehicle.

Branco is being held in the Hilo cellblock while police investigate. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting is investigated.

Branco's bail is set at $191,000.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.