HONOLULU — A next-door neighbor of a man accused of fatally shooting two Hawaii police officers, killing his landlord and stabbing a woman said he was assaulted by the suspect years ago and wanted him evicted from their upscale neighborhood near Waikiki Beach.
Warren Daniel, who lived next to suspect Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel and had a restraining order against him, said that Hanel grabbed his shirt during a 2014 argument about plants and pushed him into a tree, according to court documents.
Hanel was arrested on an assault charge at the time but later acquitted.
Hanel, a handyman who lived rent free in the home in exchange for his work, is believed to have set the residence and neighborhood ablaze after the killings.
Police believe he was in the home when it burned and said the remains of two people were found on Tuesday. A medical examiner was working to identify the remains but Hanel and his landlord were the only two people unaccounted for.
The landlord, retired librarian Lois Cain, recently sought to evict Hanel, and his attorney suggested that she may have confronted him before Sunday’s violence.
Hanel before the killings had a series of run-ins with police, and other neighbors had taken out restraining orders against him.
“It was pretty clear he was out of control,” said attorney David Hayakawa, who represented Daniel and two other neighbors in their restraining orders.
Neighbors complained that Hanel hid in bushes, chased cars down the street, confronted guests and workers who came to their homes, recorded people with a camera on his hat and sent smoke from a barbecue grill wafting into their windows, Hayakawa said.
It’s not clear where Hanel obtained the firearm allegedly used to shoot the police. He didn’t have a permit to own guns.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that a close friend of Cain’s said that Cain had kept a storage locker filled with her late husband’s firearms under her bed. The newspaper also reported that the owner of a storage company refused to allow Hanel to store firearms at his facility last year.
Janice Morrow said she didn’t know whether the guns were still under Cain’s bed over the past 3 1/2 weeks when Morrow visited her friend and tried to support Cain in her efforts to evict Hanel.
Hanel “was always telling Lois he would get her and burn the house down,” Morrow said.
Stephany Sofos, a real estate analyst who knew Cain, told the Star-Advertiser she had advised the retired librarian to be careful evicting Hanel.
“I told her he’d be homeless and he’d get desperate. He didn’t have any friends, a job or a car,” Sofos said. “Besides, he’d told me before that he’d never leave the home or the Gold Coast.”
On Sunday morning after Morrow said she left the home for a yoga class, two neighbors said they heard piercing screams from the home and saw Hanel stabbing and beating another tenant of the residence with a three-pronged garden hoe, the Star-Advertiser reported.
Elklen Farmer Freeman and her husband, Russell Freeman, went next door and asked Hanel to stop. He threw the tool down but punched the woman until another neighbor, Jennifer Tema, intervened and the injured woman got away, the Freemans said.
The tenant told her neighbors that Cain was inside Hanel’s apartment and in danger, said Tema, who went to the apartment and said she “heard him beating, bludgeoning someone.”
Arriving police were met with a barrage of gunfire. The two officers were killed before the house was set on fire and the flames spread to several surrounding homes.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard told Hawaii News Now that she hopes to improve how officers deal with people with mental illness.
“We have to be able to track people who are mentally ill,” she said. “Not just to track them but to get them the services they need.”