Two dead after police shootout

  • Ryan Yukiharu Santos

Two men are dead after a police shootout with an armed man in Hilo Sunday evening.

Hawaii Police Chief Paul Ferreira said the department received a domestic abuse call at 7:10 p.m. from the brother of 34-year-old Hilo man Ryan Santos, alleging some form of abuse against Santos’ mother. Four South Hilo Patrol officers were dispatched to investigate the call at a residence on Mokuhonua Lane off Wainaku Street in Hilo.

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Upon arrival, Ferreira said the officers quickly made contact with Santos, who told officers there was no problem before returning inside. However, the officers made to check on the other occupants of the house and approached the front door.

“Immediately after making contact with a female occupant … the suspect, Ryan Santos, emerged from the kitchen area with a rifle in hand, aiming at the officers, who began immediately retreating from the residence, seeking cover,” Ferreira said during a news conference Monday. “Santos began firing at the officers, yelling and swearing as they retreated.”

Ferreira said Santos fired more than 30 rounds at officers from two different firearms. One firearm was a bolt-action rifle of unknown make and model. The other was an AR-15 that Ferreira called a “ghost gun,” purchased in parts and assembled at home, with no serial number.

Several bullets struck four police vehicles and some entered a neighboring residence, although Ferreira said nobody was injured.

One of the officers — whom Ferreira described as a 13-year police veteran — retrieved a police rifle from a vehicle and, from behind a vehicle, fired “four to five shots” at Santos. At least one of those shots struck Santos, who retreated back into the residence, where he succumbed to his injuries.

However, a 91-year-old resident, whom Ferreira referred to as Santos’ grandfather, appeared to suffer cardiac arrest during the incident. Although he was transported to the Hilo Medical Center, he died shortly thereafter.

Autopsies of both Santos and the elderly man are pending. Ferreira did not comment whether narcotics were found at the scene.

Ferreira said Santos had been previously been convicted of second-degree assault and five misdemeanor convictions including domestic abuse and drug offenses. He most recently was charged May 11 with domestic abuse and was released May 19 on a $1,000 bail posted by a Yvonne Santos. He was scheduled to return to court on that charge June 23.

As is standard procedure in police shootings, the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave and an internal investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

The incident itself is also under an ongoing investigation by detectives from the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section. Body camera footage of the incident will be released today, Ferreira said.

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Anyone with information about the case is requested to contact Detective John Balberde at 961-2386 or at john.balberde@hawaiicounty.gov. Anonymous tips may be submitted to the Crime Stoppers line at 961-8300.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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