Police identify suspect killed in officer-involved shooting in Puna

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Hawaii island police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred in Hawaiian Beaches Tuesday.

Police identified the man who was shot and killed as Bert E. Mercado, 42.

An autopsy will be conducted Friday to determine the exact cause of his death.

Police say at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to a report of a 42-year-old man who had stabbed himself with a knife at a home on Kahakai Boulevard.

When officers arrived at the scene, police say they were confronted by a man who had a rifle next to him.

They say the man grabbed the rifle and the officers ordered him to drop it. He then pointed the rifle at the officers who fired their weapons at the man. The man then retreated into the home.  

Police set up a safety perimeter around the home and nearby residents were evacuated.

“Before they all started to come down, we did hear what sounded like fireworks,” said a resident. “They just started pouring in, just flying it down the road, just nonstop. Earlier it just started, one, two, and then it never stopped.”

The department’s Special Response Team responded to the scene and a crisis negotiator unsuccessfully tried to establish communication with the man.

Police say team members entered the home at around 7 p.m. and found the man dead.

The department says there were four officers who fired their weapons, though it is not known at this time how many bullets struck the man.  

The officers involved in the shooting have between less than a year to 13 years of law enforcement experience.

Police have initiated a terroristic threatening investigation, as well as an unattended death investigation.

“Sadly, this isn’t the first time that I’ve seen this in this area,” a resident said. “It’s scary, yeah, but it’s where we are right now.”

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