Residents describe tense night: Search continues for man wanted in Kona shooting incident

  • Walter Gomes III

KAILUA-KONA — The search continues today for Walter Gomes III, a Kona man wanted in connection with a shooting incident Wednesday in Kailua-Kona.

Residents around Hawi in North Kohala said it was nerve-wracking last night knowing a manhunt was underway for a shooting suspect considered armed and dangerous in their otherwise quiet, peaceful section of the island.

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Witnesses on scene Thursday said Gomes was spotted twice at the Minit Stop gas station in Hawi. Employees recognized the suspect, observed his bullet-ridden vehicle and contacted police. The second time he stopped at the gas station, police attempted to apprehend him but he disregarded officers’ commands and fled the scene in his car. Witnesses at the Minit Stop say police fired three or four shots as the vehicle drove away.

Police continue to search the area. A West Hawaii Today reporter is on scene.

Hawi, Kapaau and the area remain mostly quiet, with some businesses opening later than normal.

Gomes, 41, was last seen wearing a blue hoodie-type top with camouflage cargo shorts, according to the Hawaii Police Department. He is described as being 5 feet, 11 inches tall, weighing 182 pounds with brown eyes and buzzed brown hair, a light mustache, and unshaved face.

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.

Investigators, acting on a combination of leads and community tips, focused their efforts in the North Kohala District mid-day Thursday.

The suspect was seen in his vehicle and refused to surrender to police, which lead to a police pursuit and the closure of roads and evacuation of residents in Hawi. A Hawaii County helicopter also assisted in the search effort.

Several officers fired rounds into the suspect’s vehicle at two locations in Hawi. The pursuit ended when the suspect broad-sided a police vehicle, abandoned his Cadillac Escalade and fled on foot into a dense brush area.

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.

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As is standard practice in any police-involved shooting, the Department’s Area II Criminal Investigation Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting, while the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation.

Police advise the public refrain from contacting the suspect, and to report any sighting to the Police Departments non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311 or to contact Lieutenant Roylen Valera at (808) 326-4646 ext. 230, or via email at roylen.valera@hawaiicounty.gov.

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