A Big Island manhunt is underway after a shooting in Kona Wednesday night left a woman seriously wounded. Police say 41-year old Walter Gomes III is on the run. Police closed a portion of Akoni Pule Highway from Upolu Airport Road to Hawi road as they search for him.
Police say officers found Gomes just after 2 Thursday morning, but he refused to listen and drove his vehicle towards officers, hitting a police car. Three officers fired at the suspect but he got away. Gomes was last seen driving a white Cadillac Escalade and is considered armed and dangerous.
This is the latest violent incident involving law enforcement. Police Union President Malcolm Lutu tells us the training Hawaii officers receive is very good and officers involved in these shootings have a good support system. However, the increased violence against officers is of great concern.
They dodge bullets, dangerous weapons, and even vehicles in the line of duty. Authorities are seeing even more violence against law enforcement officers.
“Our job has changed being a police officer in Hawaii. Used to be a little bit different than on the mainland,” said Lutu.
Lutu tells us traffic stops are one of the most dangerous activities for officers. That’s how Big Island Police tragically lost one of their own. Officer Bronson Kaliloa, a 10 year veteran of the force, was shot and killed while on a traffic stop in the Mountain View area last summer.
“Basically, you’re out of a contained area. The officer has so many blind spots in order to make it safe,” he said.
So they’re having to rely on their training. We asked if there needs to be more.
“I think as far as our officers, we’ve always been trained to handle this type of situation but we never had to. But today, the individuals that are confronting our officers are actually forcing our officers to make a decision to use deadly force or don’t use deadly force,” said Lutu, “Any department could use more training, but I know our officers are trained well. We have one of the best academies across the nation.”
Lutu says the violence could be a reason why there are fewer recruits, that plus the scrutiny that comes with the career.
“It’s nationwide. The problem is nationwide and it’s just a career that people rather not do now.”