Murder-suicide shakes community

PUHI — The victim in a murder- suicide was reportedly in the process of filing a temporary restraining order against her ex-husband who fatally shot her late Monday at the Halelani Village condominium project.

Police identified the woman as 42-year-old Celestae Gibbons.

According to police, Celestae arrived home about 10 p.m. with her 9-year-old daughter. Upon exiting her vehicle, she was approached by her estranged husband, Justin C. Gibbons, while their daughter sat in the backseat. An argument ensued and he shot her, police said. Celestae ran into a nearby unit, but Justin Gibbons followed inside the unit and shot her again, police said.

The 45-year-old Justin Gibbons then ran outside the complex and fatally shot himself.

Both Justin Gibbons and Celestae Gibbons were pronounced dead at the scene.

The 9-year-old girl was unharmed. She is in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Celestae Gibbons had recently divorced Justin Chayse Gibbons — he did not contest the divorce — and had been granted custody of their daughter. By June, the divorce was granted, according to information from the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Information.

Dr. Terry Allen of Lihue Dental said Celestae, who moved to Kauai from Oklahoma two years ago, had gone to the Fifth Circuit Court Monday to file a temporary restraining order against Justin Gibbons.

She had problems with her ex-husband in the past, he said.

“I don’t know how he got a gun,” Allen said. “He certainly shouldn’t have had one.”

Neighbors reported hearing multiple gunshots, a child screaming and seeing the body of a person lying on the steps near the Y building of the Halelani condos.

Ruben Carrera and his wife were watching TV around 10 p.m. when they heard multiple gunshots ring throughout Halelani Village.

While his wife hid out of fear, Carrera looked outside his window and tried to figure out what was going on.

“I have never heard gunshots that close,” he said. “It was right next to my wall. Boom, boom, boom.”

Moments after the gunshots, officers stormed the sides of his apartment and when he attempted to go outside, they told him to stay indoors because a shooter might be at large.

Renee, another resident in building DD who withheld her last name, witnessed the shooting.

“At first I thought it was fireworks,” she said. “I had just laid down. It was about 10 o’clock. I heard the noise. Then I heard screaming. At first I didn’t know if it was people playing around. It didn’t really sound like fun screaming, you know. It sounded like a young girl. Definitely female screaming.”

She said she saw some commotion by the walkway leading up to the Y building.

“It was over by the bottom of the walkway,” she said. “I saw the shot. The gun kind of lit up. And then at that point, I left the window and I got my phone. And the little girl was screaming through all of it. ‘Somebody help my mom.’ I felt really bad that I wasn’t able to help the little girl. Because she was trying to get someone to help.”

She said she saw a man, who she thought was a cop, with a flashlight run up to the person on the ground.

“I only came outside once it was all lit up with officers,” Renee said. “I just didn’t know exactly what was going on … if it was someone on the loose. I didn’t really know the whole story at that point.”

Property manager Tony Chandler said although he was on the property at the time, he did not hear the gunshots.

Chandler said he got a call that someone needed help in the DD section and drove down to the building where he met with the office on scene. He said he saw about 15 police vehicles fronting the Y building, but there were more around the corner.

“They are not sure what happened because at that time they had not recovered a weapon, so they think there might be a shooter involved. So I relayed the message to all the residents and got them off the streets, into their houses and told them to stay there, lock their doors and not to come out until it’s safe.”

Carrera said although this murder suicide happened close to where he lives, he still feels safe.

“It has never happened here before,” Carrera said. “Small things like people fighting, yelling, but nothing like this. I only saw the cops coming here one time, but that’s it. I told my wife to not be scared or nothing because she likes to go for a walk. Now she doesn’t want to go for a walk. No, I told her, it’s a murder-suicide.”

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