Attorney: Shooting suspect had history of mental instability but not extreme violence

Updated: Jan. 19, 2020 at 5:51 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 69-year-old suspect in the Diamond Head shooting Sunday that left two Honolulu police officers dead had a history of mental instability and disagreements with neighbors, his attorney told Hawaii News Now.

Jerry Hanel lived rent-free in the lower floor at the Hibiscus Drive home where the shooting happened, attorney Jonathan Burge said.

Burge said the home’s owner had befriended Hanel, who is believed to have died in the incident, and wanted to help him out despite numerous issues with his neighbors in recent years and she had frequently backed him up in those disputes.

But because she was moving back to Hawaii ― and with her patience apparently running out ― she had planned to ask him to leave, Burge said. Burge said she told him Hanel was upset with her because she would not allow him to get a dog to replace one who died.

Court documents obtained by Hawaii News Now show the landlord obtained an eviction order from a court Friday.

The complaint for eviction said Hanel had no rental agreement, had damaged the property and refused multiple demands to leave.

The eviction was to be confirmed in court next week, and Hanel was also scheduled to be in court Tuesday for a misdemeanor charge that he abused the 911 system by repeatedly calling the emergency line after police told him there

He said earlier this week he spoke to the landlord and Hanel about the situation and Burge believed the suspect was preparing to leave peacefully. Instead, multiple police sources said, Hanel stabbed the homeowner and then fatally ambushed police officers before setting the house on fire.

Burge said Hanel clearly had mental issues but resisted suggestions he get treatment. His symptoms included delusions that he was being tracked by the Secret Service and FBI.

Court records also show numerous restraining orders had been filed against Hanel by three neighbors.

Hanel challenged the TROs, and Burge said most of the confrontations were over minor issues.

But he said his client was also charged with assault for shoving a neighbor. He was subsequently acquitted.

Hanel was also due in court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing after being charged with making a fraudulent 911 call. Hanel had demanded a jury trial so the misdemeanor case was pending in Circuit Court.

Burge told HNN on Sunday that the shooting has left him shocked, and added there was never any indication Hanel was capable of the kind of extreme violence that would have made it illegal for him to have a firearm. A former police officer himself, Burge added he has no sympathy for his former client.

“I was an officer for nearly 10 years and whenever an officer is hurt or killed it still affects me. It is very sad to me,” Burge said.

“I feel a lot of sorrow for the police and the neighbors. If he did what they said he did I have no sorrow for him. It’s terrible. I’m in a lot of shock myself.”

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.