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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 19, 2009

Officers shot armed man twice when standoff escalated, Big Island police say

By John Burnett
Hawaii Tribune-Herald

A man who was killed by Big Island police Wedneday following a 10-hour standoff in lower Puna was shot twice by officers using rifles, police confirmed Friday.

An autopsy has determined that 60-year-old Daniel Heidt of Kehena died of a gunshot wound to the upper torso.

Police Maj. Sam Thomas said Friday afternoon that Heidt was shot by Special Response Team officers armed with .223-caliber semiautomatic rifles.

Thomas said that three officers, all part of SRT, have been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated by both the Criminal Investigation Section and Internal Affairs.

"The two officers who fired (their weapons) ... one is a veteran of over five years and the other is a veteran of over six years," Thomas said.

The third officer, according to Thomas, did not fire but was "right there in the thick of things." Thomas said the two shots that hit Heidt were the only ones fired by police.

Thomas said a toxicology report on Heidt is expected in "about six to eight weeks."

No police officers or neighbors of Heidt were wounded, Thomas said.

Police said Heidt was shot and killed after coming out of his home at about 1 p.m. Wednesday. Police said that he came out brandishing a machete.

When he was ordered by officers to drop the large knife, he took out a concealed .22-caliber revolver and fired at least one shot, they said. They said Heidt was killed during a struggle with officers for the handgun.

Puna patrol officers originally responded to a 2:52 a.m. report of a man shooting a gun. Neighbors said Heidt, who owned the home, had been "ranting and raving" and shooting the handgun intermittently since about midnight. Patrol officers secured the area until SRT arrived shortly before 7 a.m. Police closed off Highway 137, the Kapoho-Kalapana Road, between the 19- and 20-mile markers, until 3:40 p.m.

Police said it was difficult to maintain a dialogue with Heidt because of his unwillingness to negotiate.

"You know, most of his demands were unintelligible because we were maintaining a distance. One of the things he did say was 'I'll kill all you cowards,'" Thomas said. "Why he snapped, we do not know."

One neighbor said Wednesday that Heidt had gotten divorced about a year-and-a-half earlier and had been "going slowly downhill" since.

Thomas said that in addition to the revolver, which was registered to Heidt, and the machete, Heidt also had a "multi-bladed whip" in his home.

"It wasn't really a 'Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones' whip," Thomas explained. "It was something that he fashioned himself. ... It was thicker than the wires that run from the telephone poles to your house. ... There were four (whip tails) and they had metal grommets on them."

Thomas said officers found about 5.5 ounces of marijuana, 24 marijuana plants, some "still-to-be identified pills" and "numerous spent .22-caliber shells" in Heidt's home.

Heidt had no prior criminal record in Hawaii.

Asked how many times Heidt fired the revolver, Thomas said: "If you start at the beginning, it was anywhere from 30 to 40 times."

Anyone with information on Heidt or the case is asked to call Lt. Mitch Kanehailua 961-2252 or the police non-emergency line at 935-3311. Those who prefer anonymity may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

Police are particularly interested in speaking to anyone who drove through the Kehena Beach Estates subdivision on Highway 137 on Wednesday between 2 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.