Suspect search hits day 6

  • Walter Gomes III

KAILUA-KONA — Authorities continue to search for a man suspected of shooting a woman in the face and eluding capture on three different occasions last week.

“We are developing information and we also receive tips from the public,” said Hawaii Police Lt. Roylen Valera Monday of Walter Gomes III.

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The lieutenant would not be specific, but said police have received many tips. Police say they have checked locations in Kohala and Kona for the 41-year-old’s whereabouts. On Saturday, police confirmed they responded to a possible sighting at Manuka Wayside State Park in Ka‘u, which turned out to be nothing.

“The search is focused on the areas where we have information or believe that the suspect may be in or at,” Valera added.

The pursuit for Gomes stems from a shooting incident that occurred Wednesday evening when a woman turned up at Kona Community Hospital with a single gunshot wound. At approximately 2:05 a.m. on Thursday, police had their first encounter with Gomes in Kona near Costco.

After refusing commands, police opened fire on the 41-year-old as he drove toward a police vehicle. Hours later, the search for Gomes took officers north to Hawi where police discharged their weapons on two more occasions, once at the Minit Stop and Ohana Fuels and again a half a mile away on Akoni Pule Highway near Old Camp 17 Road.

Gomes disappeared into the North Kohala brush after crashing into a police cruiser Thursday evening on the highway. He has not been seen since.

Eight officers have been put on administrative leave as a result of the shootings. Valera said anytime there is a decreased number of personnel, regardless of the reason, it has some impact on police work.

“In this particular case, we have gathered resources and personnel to continue the investigation,” he said.

Valera would not comment as to what the police protocol is when it comes to an officer drawing their weapon and firing.

“This is a policy question and I have no comment,” the lieutenant said.

The same questions posed to Valera were also posed to Police Chief Paul Ferreira and Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado. However, neither responded.

In regard to training when it comes to performing felony traffic stops, Valera said, officers are provided such training.

“As you may already be aware, in police work there is no such thing as ‘ordinary’ and that each circumstance and case may be different,” Valera said. “There is no way to train for every scenario that could possibly happen, but we do train for a lot of scenarios.”

Valera didn’t answer directly if Gomes had ever produced or fired a weapon at any point in his encounters with police on Thursday.

“Gomes is the suspect in an assault investigation whereby a female reported that she was shot in the face with a gun by Gomes,” the lieutenant stated.

Gomes was last seen wearing a blue hoodie-type top with camouflage cargo shorts.

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He is described as being 5-feet-11-inches tall, 182 pounds with brown eyes and buzzed brown hair, a light mustache, and unshaved face.

Police caution the public against approaching Gomes, as he is considered armed and dangerous and instead are asked to call police at 935-3311 to report his location. Additionally, anyone with information regarding Gomes or the incidents is asked to call Lt. Roylen Valera at 326-4646, ext. 230, or email at roylen.valera@hawaiicounty.gov or the Hawaii Police Department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311.

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