KAILUA-KONA — The search for the suspect in a Kona shooting incident on Wednesday headed into North Kohala Thursday, where police closed a stretch of Akoni Pule Highway between Upolu Airport Road and Hawi Road and advised people to avoid the area.
As of press time Thursday night, police said they were still in North Kohala looking for the suspect, whom they identified as Walter Gomes III, 41, of Kona, and asked anybody with information about his whereabouts to contact law enforcement.
The search kicked off Wednesday when, shortly after 7 p.m., patrol officers responded to the Kona Community Hospital where a woman had been taken by private vehicle for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, police said in a press release.
Officers later reportedly found Gomes and his vehicle near Maiau Street north of Costco in the Kaloko Light Industrial Park a little after 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
According to police, Gomes reportedly refused to follow officers’ verbal commands and is alleged to have driven his vehicle toward police, striking a police vehicle.
Three officers discharged firearms, the department said, but the man fled.
Hawaii Police Department Area II Criminal Investigations Division Lt. Roylen Valera said the investigation took police to North Kohala, where officers have been deployed.
Around 1:30 p.m., police reported that Akoni Pule Highway was closed from Upolu Airport Road to Hawi Road, later advising people to avoid the area entirely.
A Hawaii Fire Department helicopter assisted the search.
As of 7 p.m. Thursday, Valera said, the search was still ongoing and said people should continue to avoid the area.
At some point during the day, the suspect is believed to have abandoned the Cadillac Escalade in which police earlier said Gomes was last seen. Valera said police had recovered that vehicle and the man was believed to be on foot.
Police are cautioning the public from approaching Gomes, who they said is considered armed and dangerous. Instead, those with information should call the department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 to report his whereabouts.
Valera said tips from the public as to the suspect’s possible whereabouts have been helpful to the department so far and encouraged people to continue to call the non-emergency line with any information they might have.
People with knowledge of Gomes or the incidents can also call Detective Brandon Mansur at 326-4646 ext. 301 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police announced Akoni Pule Highway had reopened around 8 p.m. Thursday although the search continued.