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2 cops killed in Hawaii; suspect kills himself in fire he set to 7 homes

Police line tape (Dreamstime/TNS)

The Honolulu Police Department believes the man suspected of shooting and killing two patrol officers, stabbing his landlady and destroying by fire seven homes in an exclusive Diamond Head neighborhood Sunday perished in the Hibiscus Drive house where he lived.

Jerry Hanel, 69, suffered from mental problems and repeated conflicts with neighbors, according to his attorney and court records. After being asked to move out of the Hibiscus Drive house last week, Hanel fought with his 77-year-old landlady, stabbed her in the leg, shot and killed two officers who responded to the stabbing, then set the house on fire, police said.

HPD Chief Susan Ballard called the incident “a senseless and selfish act.”

“We are almost certain that he (Hanel) was in the house (that burned),” the chief said. “We will continue to search for Hanel until we confirm that his remains are recovered.”

Responding officers “knew of the suspect and had responded to that location on several occasions and were aware of him, but he never acted out with the officers,” Ballard said.

Exactly what type of weapon was used shoot the officers is unknown, the chief said. “Probably some type of long gun, but we really don’t know — we haven’t recovered the weapon.”

Hanel did not have a permit to own guns, she said.

Asked by reporters about Hanel’s mental illness, Ballard said, “I think we all know … that’s one of the weak areas in our social society, right, dealing with the mentally ill, and I think we see it with our homeless as well. It’s an area that we really need to move forward on and do a much better job with.”

Court records indicate that at least three neighbors had filed restraining orders against Hanel. The man was accused of pushing one of those neighbors, and he was charged with assault.

Hanel’s attorney Jonathan Burge said he knew Hanel had mental issues, “but this is shocking. I didn’t think he was capable of such extreme violence.”

Burge said Hanel was paranoid and believed the FBI and the Secret Service were tracking him.

Hanel, who also went by the name Jaroslav Hanel, barricaded himself in the downstairs space where he lived in 2015 when police came to arrest him on charges he assaulted a neighbor.

Burge said Hanel and his landlady were on friendly terms for years and that Hanel lived in the house in exchange for maintenance work.

The two had a dispute when Hanel’s dog died a year ago and he wasn’t allowed to get a new one, the attorney said.

The home’s owner was moving back to Hawaii and wanted Hanel to leave. Hanel wouldn’t go, according to a suit filed by homeowner Lois Cain to have Hanel evicted.

Neighbor Stephany Sofos described Hanel as a handyman who had been acting “crazy” lately. Sofos said the 77-year-old woman was downstairs talking to him when Hanel went berserk Sunday morning.

Neighbors said Hanel was from the Czech Republic and was known as Jarda.

Radek Zvak said Hanel could be rude and that he avoided him. “He was a weirdo,” Zvak said.

He said the landlady hired Hanel to manage one of her properties and that he lived in her home for free.

Cindy Williams, Zvak’s girlfriend, said the landlady had given Hanel a place to stay, with a garden and chickens. Hanel would bring eggs to his neighbors, but he seemed to have changed about a year ago.

She said a rift developed between him and his landlady because he wanted another dog, but she didn’t want him to get one.

About a year ago he injured his shoulder and was given painkillers that seemed to make him more paranoid and psychotic, Williams said.

She said the landlady was “desperate” to get him out of the house.


© 2020 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser