Jerry Hanel presumed dead after incident that left 2 police officers dead, 7 homes destroyed
In the wake of the Hawaii shooting and subsequent fire that left two police officers dead and destroyed seven homes in Honolulu’s Diamond Head neighborhood, details are coming out about suspect Jerry Hanel. The 69-year-old was being evicted by his landlady Sunday morning when he allegedly attacked her, stabbing her and another woman with a three-pronged garden tool; he then allegedly shot at the police officers who responded to the scene and, police believe, set the fire that engulfed the home and ultimately spread to a dozen others, plus multiple vehicles including a police car; KHON says an “entire neighborhood” was destroyed. What we know about him, plus more from the tragedy:
- “Weirdo”: KHON and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser spoke to neighbors, witnesses, and Hanel’s attorney and also looked at court records to learn Hanel had a history of mental health struggles and issues with his neighbors, including alleged assault against one. Seven people had restraining orders against him, including at least three neighbors. “He was a weirdo,” says one neighbor who told the paper he tried to avoid Hanel. Another says he had lately been acting “crazy.” He had reportedly lived in the home for 15 years, and another neighbor says he had been warning Hanel’s landlady that entire time that Hanel was “a sick guy.”
- History with police: The chief of the Honolulu Police Department says the responding officers “knew of the suspect and had responded to that location on several occasions and were aware of him, but he never acted out with the officers” in the past. One nearby resident says, “This house up here has had police officers at it for over a year and a half. Sometimes two, three times a day, a night, usually in the evening.” Hanel was due in court Tuesday on charges of misusing 911.
- “Shocking”: Hanel’s lawyer said it was “shocking” for him to find out his client was capable of such “extreme violence,” but noted Hanel was paranoid and thought he was being tracked by the government. He said Hanel was clearly mentally ill, but resisted treatment. Hanel did not have a permit to own a weapon, and neighbors were unaware he had a gun.
- Living situation: The attorney says Hanel lived in the house (which is in a neighborhood of million-dollar-plus homes) rent-free in exchange for maintenance work and had a good relationship with his landlady, though they did argue when Hanel’s dog died and she didn’t let him get a new one. Indeed, prior to that, the landlady had reportedly backed Hanel in disputes with his neighbors. Another neighbor says she noticed a change in Hanel about a year ago, after the dog incident and after he was given painkillers for a shoulder injury that appeared to make him even more paranoid.
- Eviction: The landlady had asked him to move out because she is returning to Hawaii, but he refused, she said in the lawsuit she filed to have him evicted. Court records show he was being evicted due to not having a lease and having damaged the property. He was served notice Thursday.
- The victims: The officers killed were Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama, a seven-year veteran and nine-year veteran of the force, respectively, Hawaii News Now reports. Both leave behind children and Enriquez also leaves behind a grandchild. It’s been 17 years since a member of the HPD was killed in a shooting, and this is just the second time in the department’s history that two officers have been killed in the same incident. “They were like my kids,” an emotional police chief told reporters. “They were with me for five years at receiving desk when I was a major down there.”
- 2 more unaccounted for: Police are fairly certain Hanel never made it out of the home he allegedly burned, though that will be confirmed when his remains are recovered. Two other people also remain unaccounted for, women who were known to be at the same property as Hanel (a multi-story home split into multiple rental properties) as of 5pm Sunday. It’s not clear whether they were still there Monday morning when the fire started, but police are looking for them.