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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 8 p.m., Friday, October 4, 2002

Kane'ohe shooting leaves 1 dead, 3 hurt

A bullet-riddled truck sits against a fence near Kane'ohe District Park today after a shooting barrage left one man dead and three injured.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Advertiser Staff

A 36-year-old man died and 3 people were injured, including a 2-year-old boy and a police officer, following a shooting incident that began with a car chase at about 1:25 p.m. today, ending up near Kane'ohe District Park.

Kahekili Highway was closed between Kulukeoe and Kahuhipa Streets for several hours during the investigation. Police reopened Kahalu'u-bound lanes by 6:30 p.m., but town-bound lanes remained closed at that hour.

The dead man was identified as Arnold L. Willets, who has a long criminal record. Willets, 36, suffered gunshot wounds to the face, head and arm and was pronounced dead at The Queen’s Medical Center.

Maj. Susan Dowsett, commander at the Kane'ohe district station, said the dead man was one of three occupants in a white GMC pickup truck involved in the incident. Another man, 22, who was in the truck was hospitalized with gunshot wounds. He was reported in guarded condition at Queen's.

Another occupant, the 2-year-old, was in good condition at Queen's, said Michelle Yu, a police spokeswoman.

The third injured person is a male police officer involved in the chase, Dowsett said.

The episode began with a motor vehicle accident on Kamehameha Highway's northbound lanes, near Kahalu'u, Dowsett said.

Police officers had ordered the driver to stop, but he refused. What followed was what Dowsett described as a "low-speed, non-confrontational pursuit" to Likelike Highway.

Police said they thought at first the truck was backfiring. They realized that a gun was being fired when a male officer's SUV was struck by bullets; he suffered cuts on his head from the shattered windshield glass.

The truck drove toward town on the highway, turned around at the tunnels and headed back. It took a right from Kahekili onto Kea'ahala Road and attempted a U-turn, but the driver lost control, Dowsett said. The truck ran up a grass embankment, spun backward into a chainlink fence atop a 5-foot concrete wall bordering the district park, she said.

The driver refused to exit the truck. While the truck was dangling from the wall, a fire broke out, Dowsett said, and the passenger emerged with the baby. The driver finally surrendered at 1:38 p.m, and the two men were taken to Queen's.

By 1:40 p.m. the fire department had the fire under control and three people were being treated at the scene.

One witness said he saw the white pickup truck smashed on the side of the highway. The witness said the driver had one hand on the steering wheel and pointed a shotgun at the witness' direction. The witness said he then heard shots and a police car was hit.

Other witnesses included workmen from Okada Trucking Co. Ltd. who were laying pipes at the scene.

"We were hiding behind our equipment when it all started," said one man, who declined to give his name. "It sounded like fireworks going off.

"At one point you could hear the bullets clanging off the metal (baseball) backstop and see the bullets hitting the grass," he added.

Advertiser staff writers Scott Ishikawa, Curtis Lum, Rod Ohira and Catherine Toth contributed to this report.