A 69-year-old man facing eviction is accused of fatally shooting two Honolulu police officers, then apparently setting a raging fire that destroyed at least seven homes and damaged others, reports CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV. It happened in an affluent, leafy, normally peaceful neighborhood popular with tourists and hikers.
The officers were responding to a call from a woman who said she needed help and found her with a stab wound to her leg, police said. The suspect opened fire as police arrived, killing Officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard told a news conference.
Her voice shook with emotion as she fought back tears.
"On behalf of the men and women of the Honolulu Police Department, we extend our deepest condolences," Ballard said. "I knew each one of them very personally."
The rampage rocked a state unaccustomed to violence and left many in disbelief.
"This is a family and people are grieving," Mayor Kirk Caldwell told reporters.
The house caught fire and, Ballard said, the suspect as well as two women who were in the home were unaccounted for. Their identities weren't released.
Ballard said authorities would continue to search for the alleged gunman, but it was likely he was in the home and died when it burned. She identified him as Jerry Hanel.
Ballard said processing the scene could take days.
Court documents show Hanel has a history of erratic behavior and making false 911 reports, KGMB says. His attorney said he had delusions that he was being tracked by the FBI.
Ballard said he had no permits to own firearms.
The home's owner, Lois Cain, had recently sought to have a man evicted, court records showed. A neighbor told The Associated Press she saw Cain being loaded into an ambulance with knife wounds.
Cain's condition wasn't immediately confirmed but KGMB said the person who was stabbed was in serious condition.
The flames from the home where the officers were killed spread quickly to several others as firefighters struggled to gain access to the site amid the active police investigation. When the blazes were at their height, thick smoke could be seen for miles.
In one video obtained by KGMB, desperate residents can be seen using garden hoses to try to douse the flames nearing their homes.
The chaos unfolded at the far end of the Waikiki Beach between the Honolulu Zoo and the famed Diamond Head State Monument, a volcanic crater that looms above Honolulu. A regional park is also nearby.