Police: Woman killed in Puna brandished rifle

  • TORI KANESHIRO

Police say a woman shot and killed by officers Tuesday morning on Kahakai Boulevard in Hawaiian Beaches subdivision brandished a rifle despite being ordered by police to drop the weapon and was wanted on an arrest warrant.

According to a Hawaii Police Department statement, at about 7:45 a.m., Puna patrol officers saw a car with its hazard lights activated on the shoulder of Kahakai, the main artery in and out of Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Shores, near the intersection of Kikou Street.

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The officers “stopped to check on the welfare of the party there,” according to Maj. Samuel Jelsma, the Puna District commander.

Three officers were involved in the incident at some point, police said.

Police said the woman, the lone occupant of the car, refused to get out of the vehicle when informed she would be arrested. She jumped into the rear of the car, grabbed a rifle and refused to let it go despite repeated orders by officers to do so, according to police.

“And at some point during that confrontation, that firearm was raised and pointed at the officers, at which time the officers did shoot,” Jelsma said.

According to police, the initial officer on scene fired his weapon, injuring the woman. Officers reportedly administered CPR and first aid to the woman prior to her being taken to Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

She was identified as 30-year old Tori M. Kaneshiro of Pahoa.

Terroristic threatening and attended death investigations were initiated.

An autopsy was ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

As is standard practice in any police shooting, the police’s Hilo Criminal Investigations Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting and associated death. The Office of Professional Standards, the department’s internal affairs unit, will conduct an administrative investigation.

Kaneshiro is the fourth individual shot and killed by Big Island police this year.

Justin Joshua Waiki, a 33-year-old fugitive who shot and killed Puna Patrol Officer Bronson Kaliloa, died in a shootout with officers July 20 at South Point, ending an islandwide manhunt. Police Sgt. Bryan Tina, a Special Response Team member, was shot and injured in the gun battle, as was a woman in a vehicle with Waiki.

Ashley Elisna Grammer, a 26-year-old Hilo woman, was shot and killed by officers Oct. 12 at Honolulu Landing near Hawaiian Beaches. Police say Grammer used a stolen Toyota 4-Runner to repeatedly ram a police vehicle, and was endangering the lives of two officers.

And 42-year-old Bert E. Mercado of Hawaiian Beaches was shot and killed Nov. 27 during a standoff with police at a Kahakai Boulevard home in Hawaiian Beaches. Police say Mercado had a rifle and pointed it at police, who fired their weapons in response.

Witnesses to Tuesday’s incident, or those with pertinent information about it, are asked to call the police department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Frank Mohica at 961-2379 or frank.mohica@hawaiicounty.gov.

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Those who prefer anonymity can call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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