Hawaii police: Friends may be hiding police shooting suspect

  • This undated file photo provided by the Hawaii Police Department shows Justin Joshua Waiki. Hawaii’s entire Big Island police force was on alert Wednesday, July 18, 2018, for the suspect wanted in the killing of Hawaii County police officer Bronson K. Kaliloa during a traffic stop, including off-duty officers and some who returned to work from vacation and days off to join in the search. (Hawaii Police Department via AP, File)

  • This undated file photo provided by the Hawaii County Police Department shows Officer Bronson Kaliloa. Hawaii’s entire Big Island police force was on alert Wednesday, July 18, 2018, for Justin Joshua Waiki, a suspect wanted in the killing of Kaliloa during a traffic stop, including off-duty officers and some who returned to work from vacation and days off to join in the search. (Hawaii County Police Department via AP, File)

HONOLULU — A suspect wanted in the killing of the first police officer to be fatally shot on Hawaii’s Big Island likely remains hidden on the mostly rural eastern side of the vast island, authorities said Thursday.

While the 4,028-square-mile (10,432-square-kilometer) island has a varied terrain ranging from residential to dense forests, police said they believe Justin Waiki will be captured soon, Maj. Samuel Jelsma said.

A manhunt has been underway since Waiki allegedly shot and killed Officer Bronson Kaimana Kaliloa during a traffic stop Tuesday night near Mountain View, a community that’s a mix of houses on large lots and undeveloped property.

Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran county police force, was struck in the neck and leg and died at a hospital early Wednesday.

Other officers returned fire at the suspect, who fled into the brush. It wasn’t known if he was hit.

“Everything happened very quickly,” Jelsma said. “During the exchange of fire, he was able to escape. It was dark, too, at the time.” It also was raining hard at time Jelsma said, and so an aircraft wasn’t able to assist until the next day.

The shooting occurred in the mostly rural eastern side of the island that has been in the news lately because of the erupting Kilauea volcano.

“As far as the lava flow, that really has no impact on this,” Jelsma said. “We don’t anticipate him going toward the flow. But if he does that would kind of corner him in.”

The eruption zone is heavily patrolled by the National Guard, and there are many police checkpoints.

While Waiki’s last known address is in Las Vegas, he has a criminal history on the Big Island, Jelsma said. “It is our belief that he is receiving assistance from outside sources,” Jelsma said.

The U.S. Marshals Service and FBI are offering $10,000 rewards for information leading to Waiki’s capture. The agencies also are assisting with the search, along with state sheriffs.

Kaliloa, 46, had been married for 23 years and had three children. He was named “Officer of the Year” for his district in 2014.

Saying the slain officer’s family wasn’t ready to talk, Kaliloa’s niece, Kawehi Haug, sent a Facebook message to The Associated Press.

“He was strong and kind and funny and smart and chivalrous and served his community every day as an honest and upstanding police officer whose convictions guided him to always do the right thing,” she wrote. “He was a husband that saw himself as equal to his wife in every way, and a father who loved and cared for his three babies from the moment he laid eyes on them.”

Haug explained that Kaliloa and his wife adopted three children, ages 3, 4 and 7, through the state foster care system.

“They surrounded those babies with security and love and he honored them every single day by giving them everything he possibly could,” she wrote. “…Tragic doesn’t even begin to describe this horror.”


This version of the story corrects the age of Kaliloa’s oldest child, who is 7, not 6.

  1. Westside Pride July 19, 2018 5:53 pm Reply

    My condolences to Bronson Kaliloa’s family, WHS c/o 90′. I was fortunate to play volleyball with Bronson back at Waimea High “Go Big Blue” . I will always remember him with his big smile with braces on and dropping him off at home after practice in Hanapepe. I am glad to have met and known a Godly man. God Bless, U Bro. Till we meet again.

  2. harry oyama July 20, 2018 7:03 am Reply

    The only reason why his friends may be hiding him is because the police probably rubbed them the wrong way and not about to turn in their own kind. Cops have this attitude just because they can hide behind the badge and do what they feel like doing.

    They should take a good hard look at themselves and should be random drug tested as well. I’ve seen cops on the H1 freeway high with glassy eyes most likely on crystal meth tracking cars for speeding. Their union SHOPO fights against drug testing their officers because a good percentage are high on this drung.

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