Two police officers were murdered and seven Waikiki homes went up in flames on Sunday. Two women remain missing and are presumed dead. Even on the paradise island of Hawaii, for law enforcement officers, there is no such thing as a routine call. Honolulu police had been at Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel’s house many times before.
Police were responding to a call from the property owner around 9 a.m., saying that “she needed help.” She had been stabbed. Hanel’s landlady had been trying to serve official eviction papers on him and it didn’t go real well.
When officer Tiffany Enriquez got there, another officer was on the scene. Lois Cain — the woman who called in the report — had been discovered with a leg wound. As related by Ian Felix, a quick thinking neighbor, “I happened to be walking by when I saw a woman lying on the ground with a pool of blood coming from her leg.” He applied pressure until the police arrived.
As Enriquez and two other officers approached the residence, Hanel started shooting, killing officer Enriquez, a 7-year veteran.
Reinforcements appeared quickly, prompting Hanel to start blasting at the newcomers. He shot and killed 9-year veteran Kaulike Kalama. According to Police Chief Susan Ballard, that’s when “thick black smoke” started billowing from the house.
Hanel lived in the basement, the main floor was apparently occupied by two women. It isn’t known if they were home when Hanel set the house on fire and police are still combing through the smoking remains for all three bodies.
According to Chief Ballard, “the police department will not stop searching for Hanel until they are able to confirm that his remains were in the fire.”
When firefighters got there, there wasn’t much they could do. By then the house was engulfed in flames and threatening other houses, but there was too much ammunition still exploding for first-responders to respond. It just wasn’t safe. “If they had gotten hit by one of those stray rounds, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night,” Chief Ballard assures.
Seven homes were totally destroyed and several others were damaged by smoke before they got the blaze under control.
Our entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers killed in the line of duty this morning. As we express our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues, let us also come together to help and support those who have been forever changed by this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/qgEKTb3VXf
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 19, 2020
Neighbors describe Hanel, in his late 60’s, as “mentally disturbed.” Court records confirm the eviction proceedings. Hanel’s dog had died the year before and the landlady refused to let him get a new one.
“Defendant does NOT have a Rental Agreement to occupy the premises and Defendant has no ownership interest in said premises,” the eviction complaint reads. “Despite repeated demands, Defendant has failed and refused to vacate the premises.”
Since 2015 he’s had several run ins with his neighbors, generating at least three temporary restraining orders. He was also scheduled to appear in court next week “on a charge of misusing 911 services.”
Attorney, Jonathan Burge represented Hanel in court a few times for the TRO’s and says he “never knew Hanel to be violent” but “he’s kind of a quirky guy and had problems.” For instance, Hanel was convinced “the government was watching him and tapping his phone.”
The FBI and ATF have joined the investigation. It’s not known what kind of gun Hanel used, He didn’t have a permit, Chief Ballard explains. Both officers were wearing bulletproof vests, but it didn’t help.