Police: Accused shooter said he ‘had to kill’ victim

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Ryan Davis appears Thursday in Hilo District Court.

A 35-year-old Puna man accused of a fatal shooting early Monday morning in Mountain View told a detective he “had to kill” the victim, according to court documents filed by police.

Ryan Frederick Davis is charged with second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony, and first-degree terroristic threatening for allegedly shooting 38-year-old Joshua John Santos of Puna to death in the driveway of a Plumeria Street home in Fern Acres subdivision.


He faces a mandatory life sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole if convicted of the murder charge.

Documents state Davis’ girlfriend told police she and Davis were having a late dinner when Santos came to their home looking for his girlfriend, who is Davis’ girlfriend’s sister. The woman told police she informed Santos her sister wasn’t home, when Santos got angry and started yelling and swearing, according to documents.

The woman reportedly told police Davis went outside with a rifle, whereupon Santos accused Davis of having an affair with Santos’ girlfriend. The woman said Santos attempted to punch her but ended up striking Davis in the face instead.

Davis then fired a shot into the air, the woman stated, scaring her and causing her to run inside, according to documents. While inside, she heard two more shots and saw Santos, who was running down the driveway, collapse at the front of the property.

Davis reportedly told the detective that after he fired the warning shot with the rifle, Santos came toward him, and Davis picked up a .22 caliber handgun and shot Santos from a distance of about five feet, documents state.

Santos then said he was sorry and turned and ran down the driveway, Davis allegedly told the detective. Davis said he fired two more shots from the handgun, documents state, and Santos fell to the driveway as the firearm jammed. According to documents, Davis told the detective, “He attacked my wife. She’s pregnant. I had to kill him.”

At Davis’ initial court appearance Thursday, Deputy Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen told Hilo District Judge Bruce Larson, “Here, the alleged facts are that the defendant fired three shots from a handgun, striking unarmed Joshua Santos three times — once in the chest and twice in the back.”

Larson denied a request by Davis’ court appointed attorney, Jeremy Butterfield, to grant Davis supervised release from jail or to reduce his $310,000 bail. Larson cited the severity of the alleged offenses.

Larson ordered Davis to return for a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. April 15.

As sheriff’s deputies led Davis from the courtroom, a man in the gallery said, “Good luck in jail. Good luck (expletive),” while a woman said, “You (expletive) murderer.”

Another woman said, “Hang in there Ryan,” while a third woman said, “I love you.”


Davis remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

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

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