State briefs for April 7

Honolulu police fatally shoot 16-year-old during car chase

HONOLULU — Honolulu police officers pursuing suspects in a stolen car linked to a crime spree shot and killed a 16-year-old boy Monday, said Police Chief Susan Ballard.

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Police were reviewing body camera footage, but Ballard told reporters late Monday that preliminary information showed officers located a white Honda Civic that was reported stolen during the weekend. The car was later linked to a burglary, purse snatching, car theft and an armed robbery.

Officers pursued the car as it sped west on a highway and freeway, at one point driving into oncoming traffic, Ballard said. The driver rammed two police cars before crashing into a fence and landing in a canal.

Before the car ended up in the canal, officers fired at it. Some of the occupants later ran from canal with officers running after them, Ballard said.

The 16-year-old driver was taken to a hospital where he died, Ballard said. The five other occupants of the car ranged in age from 14- 22. One was seriously injured, a second suffered injuries Ballard described as non-life threatening and three were taken into custody.

The three officers who used their guns were put on administrative leave, which is standard police procedure, Ballard said, estimating that seven or eight rounds were fired.

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Kauai rejoins Safe Travels program

HONOLULU — Kauai has rejoined the state’s Safe Travels program, which means out-of-state visitors can skip quarantining if they test negative for the coronavirus up to 72 hours before their flight.

As of Monday, travelers to Kauai were allowed to bypass a 10-day quarantine by presenting pre-travel negative coronavirus tests.

The county opted out of the program in December because of the global rise in virus infection cases.

“We are now in a much better place today to have travelers coming in, and I think as more vaccines get out, generally speaking, the entire world will be in a better place,” Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said.

The island since December welcomed back some interisland travelers and adopted “resort bubbles.”

Kawakami said rejoining Safe Travels will help buoy local businesses that struggled because of public health restrictions.

Kauai visitors will also receive discount cards for local businesses if they voluntarily take coronavirus tests three days after arriving in addition to their required test before travel.

The discount cards will feature QR codes that link to a site with discounts and incentives offered by local Kauai businesses. About 60 Kauai businesses, hotels and restaurants are participating.

Vacation rental occupancy rates outperform hotels

HONOLULU — The state’s vacation rental market has outperformed hotels in occupancy rates in every month since October.

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Vacation rental owners throughout the state have said the higher demand was prompted by pandemic-related attitude shifts that prioritize space and seclusion for getaways. Other rental home operators say the pandemic-induced reduction in some hotel services, such as daily housekeeping, has decreased the service gap between homes and vacation rentals.

Matt Beall, the CEO of the full-service real estate brokerage Hawaii Life, said the company is enjoying its best year on record for vacation rentals.