'The best in us': Hundreds gather for final salute to officer

'The best in us': Hundreds gather to honor the life and legacy of fallen police officer

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds gathered Saturday to say a final goodbye to Big Island Officer Bronson Kaliloa, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop last month.

"To Bronson, I would like to say ... I'm wearing the Hawaii Police Department badge more proudly than ever because of you," Hawaii County Police Chief Paul Ferreira said at the services at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo, holding back tears.

"You represented the very best in us. You symbolized the true meaning of the aloha spirit. A hui hou, my brother, until we meet again."

More than 1,000 people gathered for the services, which included tributes from fellow officers, a eulogy from nephew Jamin Hiebert, and an emotional "pass and review," with officers walking two-by-two to salute a maile lei-draped photo of Kaliloa.

Following the services, a funeral procession traveled from Hilo to Pahoa, where Kaliloa was assigned. Along the route, officers lined the streets to salute the passing motorcade.

Funeral services are planned Saturday afternoon at Homelani Memorial.

Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran of the force, leaves behind his parents, his wife and three young children.

He's the first Big Island police officer to die in the line of duty since 1997. Ferreira has said he's also the first to be shot and killed since 1918.

Officers from across the state attended the services Saturday, including at least 18 officers from Honolulu.

"Whether it happens in the mainland or here, it's always tragic. I mean these people leave behind wives, spouses, children, and he's gone," said Honolulu Police Department deputy Chief John McCarthy.

Officers also traveled to the services from across the mainland, including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

Kaliloa died July 18, after being shot during a traffic stop in Mountain View. The accused gunman was killed several days later in a police shootout, which also inured another officer.

Big Island Police Maj. Samuel Jelsma, who served as Kaliloa's district commander in Puna, also spoke at the services Saturday.

He called Kaliloa a model officer who was humble and believed in the power of community and team.

Kaliloa, Jelsma said, was "truly great."

The funeral procession will travel from the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo to the Pahoa Police Station — where Kaliloa was assigned — and then back to Hilo, passing by the Hilo police station along the way.

Kaliloa will be buried at Homelani Memorial. A 21-gun salute and aerial dropping of flowers is planned.

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