HPD: Fugitive critically injured in police shooting was ‘brandishing’ gun at officers

Published: May. 26, 2021 at 5:41 PM HST|Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 7:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An armed fugitive was critically wounded overnight after being shot by police in Kalihi.

It happened about 11:30 p.m. near the intersection of Hikina Lane and North King Street.

Police say prior to the shooting, suspect Dion Kitzmiller was driving a vehicle into other cars and pulled a handgun on officers. It’s unclear if the suspect ever fired.

HPD says the shooting happened as members of the department’s Crime Reduction Unit were attempting to serve a pair of $50,000 warrants.

A witness captured cell phone video documenting the moments after the 27-year-old was shot.

The footage shows a brief struggle. You can hear a woman scream “stop hitting him.” At the same time, police repeatedly yelled at the suspect “give us your hands.”

Another video shows officers rushing to render aid.

“Get all the med stuff,” one officer said.

Another officer could be heard telling Kitzmiller, “Wake up, brother. Wake up. Ambulance is on the way.”

According to HPD, officers had gotten a tip that Kitzmiller was in Kalihi. Crews spotted him sitting in the driver’s seat of Jeep parked on Hikina Lane.

“As officers approached the vehicle and ordered the suspect driver out. The Jeep drove out of the parking stall and struck a total of four different vehicles. During this time the driver also brandished a handgun at the officers,” said Assistant Police Chief Rade Vanic, who has been tapped to serve as interim chief after Police Chief Susan Ballard steps down June 1.

Vanic says another man sitting in the front passenger seat ran off while a woman hunkered down in the back as Kitzmiller tried to get away.

“Officers approached the vehicle a second time and ordered the driver out,” Vanic said. “As they did the suspect turned towards the officers still brandishing the handgun. One of the officers fired multiple shots striking the suspect in the upper body.”

Police said the entire incident was over in less than a minute.

Witnesses say it sounded like a war zone.

“You could hear screeching back and forth,” said Michael Mastronardi.

Brandon Kepaa-Taylor added, “It sounded like all the cars getting totaled.”

Clayrissa Souza said she ran outside when she heard the commotion.

“I saw was a swarm of people surrounding the car,” she said. “And it was just like get out of the car! Get out of the car! And they just started shooting.”

Mastronardi said, “It was just carnage everywhere.”

On Wednesday morning, HNN crews found one car with a bullet hole in door, a vehicle with its front end completely smashed and a couple more cars with cracked and busted bumpers.

Records show Kitzmiller was a fugitive. Two bench warrants were issued for his arrest last month.

“The suspect has eight prior convictions including six felony convictions for robbery, theft and drugs,” Vainc said. “The two $50,000 cash only warrants are for charges that include kidnapping, terroristic threatening, abuse of household member and firearms offenses.”

HPD says the officer who opened fire has 12 years of service and has been placed on standard administrative leave.

It’s the third police shooting involving HPD in 2 months. This time, there’s no body cam video because the officers were in plain clothes.

The other two shootings were fatal. Twenty-nine year-old Lindani Myeni was killed on April 14 and 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap on April 5.

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