Police searching South Kona for alleged cop killer

  • Police vehicles block the intersection of Napoopoo Road at its intersection with Highway 11 in South Kona Thursday evening as they searched for Justin Waiki. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • Officer Bronson Kaliloa holds the plaque he was awarded as Puna's Officer of the Year for 2014. (Hawaii Police Department photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • A police officer and vehicle block Highway 11 at its intersection with Middle Keei Road after a vehicle carrying alleged cop killer Justin Waiki headed mauka on Middle Keei Road Thursday evening. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Updated 9:30 a.m. Friday July 6: A man and a woman were taken into custody late Thursday evening in South Kona as the search for a fugitive who allegedly shot and killed a Puna patrol officer continues.

Hawaii Police Assistant Chief Marshall Kanehailua said the search was still underway for the fugitive, 33-year-old Justin Joshua Waiki. Hawaii Police and the department’s Special Response Team began looking for Waiki Thursday afternoon, when he fled on foot after leading police on a high-speed pursuit from Ka Hale Kahaluu in Kailua-Kona to Middle Keei Road in Honaunau, authorities confirmed late Thursday afternoon.


KAILUA-KONA — Police were searching areas of South Kona into the night Thursday for a fugitive wanted for allegedly shooting and killing a Puna patrol officer earlier this week.

As of press time, Hawaii Police and the department’s Special Response Team were still looking for 33-year-old Justin Joshua Waiki, who had fled on foot after leading police on a high-speed pursuit from Ka Hale Kahaluu in Kailua-Kona to Middle Keei Road in Honaunau, authorities confirmed Thursday night.

The manhunt for Waiki started Tuesday evening at 9:47 p.m. after police say he shot Officer Bronson Kaimana Kaliloa at the side of the road of Highway 11 in Mountain View when the officer approached a vehicle during a traffic stop.

Waiki allegedly got out of the car and shot Kaliloa in the neck and leg. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be torn carotid artery caused by a gunshot wound, and the manner of death homicide.

According to Hawaii Police, Thursday’s pursuit started at about 5 p.m. at the housing complex off of Makolea Street. According to witnesses, an undercover police officer walked up to a man and a girl sitting in a parked truck.

“The cop took out his gun and told him to get out of car,” said resident Maya Gonsalves, who had been sitting out front on the sidewalk at the time of the reported confrontation.

Gonsalves said the man in the truck reversed onto the lawn and drove off. Witnesses added that the alleged undercover officer fired three gunshots.

Gonsalves and other residents at the complex said they didn’t know who was in the truck, only that he had come to visit there in the past.

Alby Tobin, also a resident, shot a brief video that shows the man peeling out of the parking lot. Three pops are heard as one man pursued the vehicle as it turned the corner onto Makolea Street.

“It’s unbelievable,” Tobin said as he recalled witnessing the incident from a car in the parking lot. “I was kinda nervous, to be honest.”

At the same time, Tobin said, it was exciting.

Officers were congregated in South Kona as they continued their search for Waiki into Thursday evening. As of press time, the fugitive had not yet been caught.

At last report, officers sighted the vehicle heading up Middle Keei Road, mauka of Highway 11 in Honaunau.

A roadblock was established on Napoopoo Road, and there were unconfirmed reports of shots being fired.

While police searched for Waiki, a few officers were at Kahaluu housing investigating the incident where the pursuit began. Officers on scene were walking the lawn in front of the units. An officer on scene said they responded to the apartment complex on a report of shots fired and they were looking for evidence of that.

Meanwhile, Hawaii County’s prosecuting attorney said he’ll pursue felony charges against anyone who is caught aiding and abetting Waiki.

“We intend to go after them. If they’re helping him, we intend to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” Prosecutor Mitch Roth said Thursday. He said that applies to family members of Waiki, as well.

“His name is out there, and everybody knows he’s pretty much on the run, so we’re definitely looking at anybody who’s helping him.”

Roth cited the statute on hindering prosecution, which is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He said acts covered by the law include harboring or concealing the fugitive, warning the individual of imminent apprehension or prosecution, providing money, transportation, weapons or disguises, or preventing someone else by force, intimidation or deception, from alerting authorities to Waiki’s whereabouts.

Waiki is described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall and about 145 pounds, with a neck tattoo. When last seen, he was wearing a white T-shirt and dark jacket.

Waiki is considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone with information his whereabouts is asked to call the police nonemergency line at 935-3311 or Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

To honor Kaliloa, Gov. David Ige on Thursday ordered that the U.S. flag and the Hawaii state flag be flown at half-staff at the state capitol and upon all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawaii National Guard until sunset today.

“Our entire state mourns the loss of Officer Kaliloa, a man who dedicated his life to his family and his community. He sacrificed all to protect the community he loved. Dawn and I send our deepest condolences to his ohana,” Ige said in a statement.

The governor has also ordered that the flags be lowered on the day of Officer Kaliloa’s memorial service.


Another flag notice will be issued when memorial plans are finalized.

Hawaii Tribune-Herald staff writer John Burnett contributed to this report.