A man facing eviction from a high-end neighborhood near Hawaii’s iconic Diamond Head stabbed his landlady, fatally shot two officers and sparked a fire that destroyed at least seven homes, with the suspect and two others possibly lost in the rubble, say police.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell described Sunday’s events in his city as an “unprecedented tragedy,” reported Honolulu News Now.
The two officers killed were among those called to the scene after the suspect, 69-year-old Jeroslav “Jerry” Hanel, used a three-pronged garden tool to stab the leg of the landlady who had come to evict him just after 9 a.m., Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a news conference.
Hanel had been served with his notice Thursday after the landlord earlier last week had gone to court to force his eviction, reports Honolulu TV station KHON.
The landlady, Louis Cane, dialed 911 to summon officers, who arrived to find “thick black smoke coming out of the home,” Ballard said.
Gunfire erupted from the home as approaching officers walked up the driveway, striking officers Tiffany Enriquez, a seven-year department veteran, and Kaulike Kalama, who had been a member of the force for seven years.
“They were like my kids,” Ballard told reporters, choking back her emotions. “I know each one of them very personally.”
Hanel is believed to have set and died in the fire that very quickly spread to other structures. Two other people, both women, were missing and unaccounted for after the blaze, according to authorities, who did not immediately identify them.
“It will likely take days to process the crime scene, including recovery of any remains,” said Ballard on Sunday. “At this time there are three people who are unaccounted for, including the suspect.”
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Attorney Jonathan Burge, who has represented Hanel in disputes with neighbors, told the Associated Press that the Czech native lived rent-free in the home in exchange for providing handyman work, but also that Hanel was “kind of a quirky guy and had problems,” believing he was under surveillance by the government.
Hanel did not have a permit to own guns, said Ballard.
“On behalf of the men and women of the police department,” she said, “our deepest condolences go out to the families of officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama.”
Officers “knew of the suspect and had responded to that residence on several occasions and were aware of him,” Ballard said, “and he had never acted out with the officers.” Hanel was arrested last year for misuse of 911, reports KHON.
Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning. As we express our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues, let us also come together to help and support those who have been forever changed by this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/qgEKTb3VXf— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 19, 2020
In a tweet on Sunday, the state’s Gov. David Y. Ige said: “Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu police officers killed in the line of duty this morning. As we express our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues, let us also come together to help and support those who have been forever changed by this tragedy.”