Police: Suspect fired over 30 rounds at officers before being shot dead

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Published: Jun. 13, 2021 at 10:44 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 10:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Island police released new details surrounding Sunday night’s fatal officer-involved shooting that left one suspect dead.

In a news conference Monday, Hawaii County Police Chief Paul Ferreira said officers were responding to a domestic violence case at the Wainaku home around 7 p.m. Sunday night. When they arrived, suspect Ryan Santos, 34, told officers everything was OK, and went back inside the house.

Police continued their efforts to speak with a woman who was inside the house when the incident took a violent turn.

“Immediately after making contact with the female occupant — who was identified as Santos’ aunty — the suspect emerged from the kitchen area with a rifle in hand aiming at the officers who began immediately retreating from the residence, seeking cover,” Ferreira said.

“Santos began yelling at the officers and swearing as they retreated. Santos exited the home and while on the front balcony continued firing at the officers,” Ferreira added.

Santos fired over 30 rounds from two semi-automatic rifles, according to police, before he was struck by return gunfire from officers. Police said he went back inside the house and later died at the scene from his injuries.

In the shootout, bullets hit police vehicles and neighboring homes, though there were no additional injuries.

Ferreira said four bullets went into an unoccupied home down the street.

A neighbor, Miko Todd, said she heard the gunshots and thought they were fireworks.

After first hiding in her closet, Todd said she made it outside of her home and hid behind a concrete wall.

“The policeman helped us and said ‘Stay there, it’s safe,’” recalled Todd.

The officer who fired his weapon is a 13-year veteran of the force. He has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol.

A 91-year-old relative of Santos who was also home at the time of the shooting suffered a medical condition and was taken to the hospital. Police said he later died after going into cardiac arrest. He was not hit by gunfire.

Police said Santos was not allowed to own firearms because he was a convicted felon. Police said the guns used were ghost guns, which are self-assembled and unregistered. Additional firearms were also recovered from the home.

Santos’ record included convictions for felony assault, and 10 misdemeanor charges for abuse, assault and drug offenses.

The chief said they are looking into the history of the firearms.

“So firearms are a very dangerous and difficult problem for the police,” said private defense attorney and former prosecutor, Victor Bakke. “But again, the easiest way for people to get these guns out of the convicted felons hands are to report it.”

Hawaii County police said officers were wearing body cameras and they hope to release the footage Tuesday.

An autopsy has been scheduled for both Santos and the elderly relative.

This story may be updated.

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