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'Unprecedented tragedy': Gunman kills 2 Hawaii officers, sets fire that destroys at least 7 homes, police say

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/20/2020 Jordan Culver, USA TODAY
a group of people sitting on a bench in front of a tree: Honolulu police watch a house fire after a shooting and domestic incident near Diamond Head in Honolulu on Sunday. © Jamm Aquino, AP via Honolulu Star-Advertiser Honolulu police watch a house fire after a shooting and domestic incident near Diamond Head in Honolulu on Sunday.

Two police officers were killed Sunday in Honolulu and three people — including the suspected gunman — are unaccounted for, authorities said, following a bizarre string of events that allegedly began with an attempted eviction.

The officers were met with gunfire after responding to a call about a stabbing at a home at the far end of Waikiki Beach between the Honolulu Zoo and the Diamond Head State Monument. Hawaii News Now, citing police sources, reported the man first stabbed his landlord after she tried to evict him, then fired at responding police officers and set fire to the home. 

During an evening press conference, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballardidentified the two officers who died as Tiffany Enriquez, a seven-year veteran, and Kaulike Kalama, a nine-year police veteran. Both were parents, Ballard said.

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The suspect in their killings and two other women remain unaccounted for, the chief said.

Ballard confirmed police responded to a stabbing after receiving a call around 9 a.m. from a woman who said she needed help. That woman was transported to the hospital after she was found by a responding officer with a stab wound to the leg, and Ballard said she was unsure of the woman's condition. 

Two additional officers arrived on the scene, Ballard said. As the three officers were walking on the home's driveway, the suspect, identified by Ballard as Jerry Hanel, opened fire. Hanel first shot Enriquez, and the other two officers took cover. More officers arrived to assist and Hanel shot at the second group of officers, this time hitting Kalama, the chief said.

It's unclear what kind of gun Hanel used, though he didn't have a permit to own a firearm, Ballard said. Both officers were wearing bulletproof vests, the chief said.

"I'm deeply saddened to report the tragic loss of two of HPD's finest in a senseless and selfish act," Ballard said.

Ballard said Hanel, who is "in his 60s," along with two women she didn't identify but who were last seen inside the home, are unaccounted for.

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"We will continue to search for Hanel until we confirm that his remains are recovered," Ballard said.

The Honolulu Police Department did not immediately return phone calls from USA TODAY.

Honolulu Fire Department Chief Manuel Neves told reporters that the fire Hanel allegedly set has been "totally extinguished," but seven homes were totally destroyed and multiple others sustained fire or smoke damage. A shelter has been opened for displaced families.

Hanel was living in the home of Lois Cain, according to court documents. Cain recently sought to have Hanel evicted, and a neighbor said she saw Cain being loaded into an ambulance on Sunday with knife wounds.

“Defendant does NOT have a Rental Agreement to occupy the premises and Defendant has no ownership interest in said premises,” read a complaint for eviction that Cain filed last week in court, according to the Associated press. “Despite repeated demands, Defendant has failed and refused to vacate the premises.”

Jonathan Burge, Hanel's attorney since 2015, said Hanel had lived in Cain's home free of charge in exchange for handyman work. Burge also said three of Hanel's neighbors had obtained temporary restraining orders against him. 

Hanel believed the government was watching him and tapping his phone, Burge said.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives posted on Twitter that agents were responding to an “active shooter situation” in Honolulu

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the entire state mourns the loss of the two police officers killed in Sunday's shooting. 

“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,” Ige said on Twitter. 

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell took to Twitter to express his condolences for the two officers who were killed. 

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the two officers as well as the entire Honolulu Police Department,” Caldwell tweeted. “This is an unprecedented tragedy for not only the City and County of Honolulu but the entire state of Hawaii.” 

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Unprecedented tragedy': Gunman kills 2 Hawaii officers, sets fire that destroys at least 7 homes, police say

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