Police shoot alleged auto theft suspect in Hilo

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Police pick up equipment after gathering evidence on Kumukoa Street after an officer-involved shooting incident in Hilo.

A South Hilo patrol officer shot and wounded an auto theft suspect at about noon today on Kumukoa Street in Hilo.

According to Capt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Division, the shooting victim was hit by a single bullet in the upper body and he is “expected to make a full recovery.”


The 32-year-old man, whose name hasn’t yet been released by police, is a suspect in an attempted vehicle theft in the 500 block of Kukuau Street about a half-hour earlier.

According to Amon-Wilkins, the shooting victim was known to police and matched the description of the suspect in the attempted vehicle theft given to them by the truck’s owner.

The truck’s owner, who had reported the theft in progress, said the suspect fled on foot. The owner gave police the general direction in which the suspect escaped.

Amon Wilkins said officers contacted the suspect, “and he immediately started to evade officers and run away.”

Officers also saw the man “reaching into his waistband area and pulling out a dark-colored pistol,” Amon-Wilkins said.

“The officers gave him loud, clear verbal directions to put the weapon down,” Amon-Wilkins said.

He added the suspect “disregarded the commands and turned to point the weapon at an officer or towards the officers, and one of the officers discharged his weapon.”

Amon-Wilkins said the officers at the scene “immediately started performing first aid on the subject until … paramedics arrived and took over.”

The man was taken to Hilo Medical Center by ambulance, where he remains hospitalized. No officers were injured.

Amon-Wilkins said he heard the radio call of “shots fired,” and he and other detectives immediately went to the scene.

The suspect’s firearm was recovered by police, Amon-Wilkins said, and detectives continue to investigate.

In addition, the Office of Professional Standards — the department’s Internal Affairs unit — has opened an internal investigation into the incident, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

Amon-Wilkins said the the officer who fired at the suspect is a five-year veteran of the department. He is on paid administrative leave “pending an internal review of the incident.”

Asked how many shots were fired by police, he said, “I believe two shots were fired.” The suspect didn’t fire his weapon.

Amon-Wilkins said police intend to arrest the suspect after his release from the hospital. He will be identified at that time.

A portion of Kumukoa Street was closed and traffic was rerouted for several hours while police examined the scene of the shooting.

Anyone who may have witnessed this incident is asked to call the police nonemergency line at (808) 935-3311 or contact Detective Paul Mangus of the East Hawaii Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2383 or Paul.Mangus@hawaiicounty.gov.

Those who prefer anonymity may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

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

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