Neighbors devastated after elderly woman gunned down outside her home

Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 12:04 PM HST
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MAKIKI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Neighbors and friends of a 71-year-old woman who was gunned down outside her Makiki apartment are devastated as police investigate the shocking murder.

The fatal shooting happened about 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Police identified the suspect as 74-year-old Ernest Romero, and say he turned himself shortly after the shooting.

Residents say the shooting was unprovoked. They say Romero drove his car into the parking lot of their Green Street walk-up and shot his neighbor several times as she was sweeping up leaves.

It’s something she did frequently.

Resident Bob Barros says he was at home watching TV when he heard what sounded like fireworks. The 79-year-old says he came outside and saw Romero with a gun.

The next thing he knew, he was being shot at.

"He saw me and fired two shots," said Barros. "I ran back in and called 911. I don't know how I didn't get hit. I was right in the line of fire when I walked out."

Barros says Romero took off in his car and later turned himself into police.

He says the gunman and the victim did not get along, and that Romero has a history of being paranoid.

“Everybody thought he was an unlikable person, a loner. Everybody knew that, but never did I think he would go this far. He lost it,” Barros said.

The woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but later died.

Residents who knew her for years say she was a widow who lived alone and has children on the mainland.

Pono Ontiveros says he was on Maui when he got word of the shooting at his apartment. He later learned his friend had died.

"We were packing up our bags because we were about to change our flights to make sure that somebody was going to be there with her," said Ontiveros.

Ontiveros says everyone on the block loved her because she took care of them, and he says she was much more than just a neighbor to many.

“I’d wake up every morning and there would be something new at my doorstep before I went to work ― a magazine she thought I would like, newspaper clippings," Ontiveros said.

“There was a time I broke my ankle and couldn’t walk for a month, and she came every morning to pick my dogs up and walk them. She was like my best friend. She really was.”

Police say Romero remains in custody for murder and attempted murder.

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