Hawaii police, officials plan tributes honoring fallen Big Island officer
HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the manhunt over for suspected cop killer Justin Waiki, tributes are being planned to honor the slain Big Island officer.
Officer Bronson Kaliloa's name will be added to memorials on the Big Island and Oahu for those killed in the line of duty. His death comes not long after the latest fundraising push to help the families of fallen officers.
"It was kind of a surreal moment, that we were actually raising funds for this type of situation just two months ago," said FBI special agent Ed Ignacio.
In mid-May, Ignacio and Kona police officer Justin Gaspar finished a grueling 78-mile trek across Saddle Road wearing official gear. They raised more than $6,000 to start a scholarship fund for the children of fallen officers.
"It's something that we never want to see, but I knew there was going to be a time when it was going to happen, but I had no idea it was going to be this soon," said Gaspar.
Several days ago, Gaspar and Ignacio started assisting with the search for Waiki and the investigation, after the shooting that killed Kaliloa. Both men knew the fallen officer.
"Officer Kaliloa was a great person as well as being a great officer. Well liked, by not just the community, his peers, very well respected," said Ignacio.
The 46-year-old's name is already listed on the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation's website and his End of Watch plaque will be added to the Oahu memorial after his funeral on August 4th. The memorial in Hilo will also bear his name.
"I always accept the fact that it's not if it's when, but when that when hits, it's unexplainable," said Gaspar, fighting back tears.
As a member of the Special Response Team, Gaspar also trained with the sergeant who was wounded in Friday's South Point shootout. He had a chance to speak to the injured officer, who is now in stable condition at Hilo Medical Center.
"He was cracking jokes the whole time so that was a great thing. At that point, we knew he was fine," Gaspar said.
The wounded officer was shot with a .38 caliber revolver that was reported stolen from a home in March, according to police.
Three other people in the vehicle with Waiki — Malia Lajala, Jorge Pagan-Torres, and Krystle Ferreira — were charged with various offenses, including accomplice to attempted murder and hindering prosecution. A 35-year-old woman who was also in the SUV during the takedown is being treated at the hospital.
Now that the search for Waiki is done, officers say it's time to honor the fallen officer who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"We didn't have a grieving time. Nobody in the department did until it was all said and done," said Gaspar.
Funeral services for Kaliloa have been set for Aug. 4 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Visitation is set for 9 to 10 a.m., followed by a service from 10 a.m. to noon.
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