Hilo domestic dispute turns deadly after officer-involved shooting

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HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — A domestic dispute in Hilo turned deadly Sunday night after a suspect allegedly began shooting at officers, who then returned fire, killing the suspect.

Big Island police officials said that four officers responded to a physical domestic call at a residence on Mokuhonua Lane shortly after 7 p.m. When officers attempted to make contact with the residents, a man allegedly opened fire on the officers with a semi-automatic rifle.

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“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. Santos began firing at the officers, yelling and swearing as they retreated. Santos exited the home and while on the front balcony continued firing at the officers,” said Police Chief Paul Ferreira.

One of the officers returned fire, four to five shots, hitting the suspect. The 34-year-old suspect died at the scene.

The officer is a 13-year veteran of the Hawaii Police Department and has been placed on leave.

During this incident, a 91-year-old relative of the suspect, Santos’ grandfather, appeared to go into cardiac arrest. He was transported to Hilo Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead. Police said the relative may have died from a medical condition, however, an autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death. Both autopsies are scheduled for Tuesday morning.

“Investigation has revealed that during the incident Santos discharged an excess of 30 rounds at the officers from two different rifles,” Ferreira said “Some of the rounds fired struck four police vehicles as well as into a neighboring residence. Fortunately it did not result in any injuries through innocent parties or the officers.”

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Ferreira said four firearms were recovered from the residence and do not belong to Santos, who is prohibited from holding firearms due to being a convicted felon. Checks are still being conducted on the history of the weapons.

Records indicate that Santos was convicted of assault in the second degree, 10 misdemeanor arrests, five of which are convictions, and three petty misdemeanor convictions.

Ferreira said the officers involved in Sunday’s incident were wearing body cameras, and the department hopes to release these by Tuesday.

Police continue to investigated this attempted first-degree murder case and ask anyone with information to contact them at (808) 935-3311 or Detective John Balberde of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2386.

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