MOUNTAIN VIEW, Hawaii – Hawaii’s entire Big Island police force was on alert Wednesday for a suspect wanted in the killing of an officer during a traffic stop, including off-duty officers and some who returned to work from vacation and days off to join in the search.
Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran of the Hawaii County Police, was shot Tuesday night as he and other officers approached a vehicle during a traffic stop near Mountain View, a community south of Hilo, police said.
Kaliloa was struck in the neck and leg by a driver who got out of his car firing multiple shots from a handgun, Hawaii County police said. He died early Wednesday at a hospital. He was the first police officer to be fatally shot on the Big Island.
Two of the four officers on the scene returned fire, but the suspect escaped into the brush in a largely rural area northeast of Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting lava into residential neighborhoods on the island for two months.
Police did not immediately say how many shots were fired or if the suspect, identified as Justin Joshua Waiki, was struck. Waiki, 33, whose last address was in Las Vegas was wanted on a no-bail warrant, police said.
Police spokesman Alan Richmond said Waiki also had prior addresses on the Big Island, including in Volcano, Hilo and Lower Puna. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and dark jacket.
Kaliloa, 46, had been married for 23 years and had three children. He was named “Officer of the Year” for his district in 2014.
Hawaii’s governor David Ige extended his condolences to Kaliloa’s family and colleagues. “He was a highly regarded 10-year veteran of the Hawaii Police Department who will be greatly missed,” Ige said in a statement.
The Big Island has 400 sworn police officers.
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