HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Honolulu police officers responding to the scene of a stabbing near Diamond Head were shot and killed Sunday during a violent sequence of events that is believed to have ended when the suspected killer died after setting fire to the home he was hiding in.
With firefighters sidelined as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the active shooter situation, the raging fire that began in the minutes after officers were shot was soon burning out of control, destroying at least five homes and damaging several others.
The terrifying series of events that played out, as well as the challenge of investigating the burned-out murder scene, has led to lots of speculation and rumor about what exactly happened.
Here’s what we know:
The Honolulu Police Department says the incident started at 9:01 a.m. Sunday. Officers responded to a 911 call from a woman who said that she needed help.
Witnesses say that woman was a tenant in a house on Hibiscus Drive, just a few blocks from the ocean, where the violent rampage began. She had been stabbed in the leg with a garden tool and was seriously injured.
The home’s owner ― Lois Cain ― had been trying to evict suspect Jerry Hanel and apparently confronted her tenant Sunday morning. The woman was declared missing in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
In the wake of the stabbing, there was more violence: Three officers responding to the crime were ambushed as they walked down Hanel’s driveway. It’s at that point that Officer Tiffany Enriquez was fatally wounded.
More officers arrived as backup, and the suspected kept firing. Officer Kaulike Kalama was then fatally shot.
As the suspect retreated to his property, he then apparently started a fire that turned into an inferno.
Neighbor Stephany Sofos documented the shocking chain of events on Facebook and told the investigators she saw the blaze at 9:45 a.m. She and other witnesses believe it was about an hour before police gave the all clear to firefighters, allowing them in to fight the flames.
Police Chief Susan Ballard says HPD waited before allowing firefighters to ensure the safety of all first responders as ammunition continued to explode in the house.
“There were what sounded like rounds going off,” she said.
“We can’t put other public safety and our fire department in jeopardy because if someone would have gotten hit by one of those stray rounds, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night.”
An attorney for next-door neighbor Warren Daniel says responding officers risked their lives to get Enriquez out of firing range.
“He could see the initial officer grabbing the female officer by the arms and just doing that reverse drag. I believe that was the first aid provided to her,” said David Hayakawa.
“They couldn’t tell where the bullets were coming. They didn’t know the layout and you have to understand Mr. Hanel had a security system he knows where everybody is,” he added.
Although police initially believed two women were missing in the incident, one was later accounted for. She’d been traveling and informed authorities she was OK.
Honolulu police officials said Tuesday that two sets of remains had been recovered at the primary crime scene on Hibiscus Drive. Those remains, sources say, are presumed to be those of Cain and Hanel.