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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 22, 2004

Makiki shooting sets off afternoon of chases, chaos

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Police last night were sorting out a wild series of events in Makiki that began with an officer being dragged by a fleeing pickup truck on Roundtop Drive, a shot being fired at the truck and dozens of police officers swarming the area in search of the truck driver, who also may have been involved in at least two carjackings.

Police said no one was seriously injured in the incidents, which prompted a lock-down of Roosevelt High School and Punahou School.

One police officer was being treated at The Queen's Medical Center after he was involved in a traffic accident while responding to the incident, and another suffered scrapes after being dragged about 15 feet by the truck.

A woman also suffered minor injuries when her foot was run over by her car when it was carjacked at Young and Ke'eaumoku streets, police said. But Police Chief Lee Donohue said it was not clear whether that was a related incident.

Donohue emphasized the incidents "may or may not be related to Roundtop," but they nonetheless made for a chaotic sequence of events.

"There are 15 different places that we are investigating, and there's the carjacking, and I believe one of the owners of the car had their foot run over as the car was taken. So it's a big deal," Donohue said. "We apologize for any inconvenience that may have happened out there, but our police operations were ongoing."

It began about 12:30 p.m. yesterday when plainclothes officers staking out an area with a rash of car break-ins spotted three men in a blue Chevy pickup truck on lower Roundtop Drive. Donohue said the license plates were registered to a different vehicle, and the officers radioed for patrol officers to stop the vehicle.

Two officers stopped the truck and ordered the three men out. Donohue said the driver and a passenger next to him obeyed, but a third man jumped into the driver's seat and began to drive away.

A uniformed officer, 29, reached into the pickup and grabbed the man. The officer was dragged by the fleeing vehicle. The four-year veteran of the force was not seriously injured.

"Another officer fearing for the life of the officer being dragged fired one round at the driver of the fleeing vehicle," Donohue said. The bullet shattered the pickup's windows, but the driver apparently was not hit.

The pickup was abandoned at 1138 Davenport St. Melanie Aila said she had just dropped off her her children at a relative's house when she saw the truck with its windows blown out.

"It was just obvious that it wasn't something that belonged there," said Aila, who reported the truck to police. "I just knew off the bat that it was suspicious."

Carmela Gomez said she was with her 78-year-old mother at their Maunalaha Road home when she heard a gunshot, then car horns blasting.

"I was kinda scared," said Gomez, 54, a lifelong Makiki resident.

By the time she went outside to look, two men were handcuffed and sitting on the side of the road.

"This is the wrong place to hide out," Gomez said. "Honestly, you can't run anywhere. They'll find you. It's a dead-end situation."

Police arrested the first driver of the truck, a 33-year-old Nu'uanu man, on warrants, driving without a license, drug possession and having fraudulent license plates. The second man was questioned but not arrested, Donohue said.

A third man — a 42-year-old Kapahulu man who may have been the driver who fled Roundtop — was arrested more than two hours later near Punahou School. He was spotted near a brown pickup truck that almost ran over an officer, police said. Police last night were searching for another man who may have been with him.

Just before the arrest, police had searched an apartment complex at the corner of Liholiho Street and Wilder Avenue when the brown pickup truck with a covered bed pulled up.

About eight uniformed officers and police in plainclothes drew their weapons and rushed the vehicle, pounding on the sides of the car and demanding that the occupants get out. The driver hesitated, then gunned the engine, pulled onto Wilder Avenue and sped off in the diamondhead direction.

In the minutes leading up to the man's arrest, there were at least two carjackings and an accident in which the driver fled the scene. A Toyota was carjacked on the 1200 block of Pensacola and the driver of a Lexus forced to give up her car at Young and Ke'eaumoku, police said.

During the carjacking of the Lexus, the woman's foot was run over by the car, which was later involved in an accident near the Beretania Foodland. The driver of the Lexus fled the scene, police said.

The only event Donohue linked to the Roundtop incident was the accident at Kapi'olani and Cooke. An officer, 32, rushing to Roundtop, drove through the intersection with his siren on when a 77-year-old driver struck the back of his car, sending the police vehicle spinning into the curb.

The three-year police veteran was in stable condition yesterday at The Queen's Medical Center, Donohue said.

Advertiser staff writers Peter Boylan and Catherine E. Toth contributed to this report.

Reach Curtis Lum at 525-8025 or culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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