Loved ones plead for shooting suspect’s safe return

  • Walter Gomes III
  • Chopper 2 assists in locating suspect Walter Gomes III Thursday in Hawi on Thursday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — Loved ones are pleading for Walter Gomes III to turn himself in to authorities safely as the police search for him continues into a fourth day.

“I would tell him to turn himself in and tell him we love him no matter what the outcome may be,” Gomes’ mother, Malina Gomes Dixon, said would be her message to her son.

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On Saturday, Hawaii Police continued to advise caution to residents islandwide as the search continued for the suspect in Wednesday’s Kailua-Kona shooting.

“He could be anywhere,” Hawaii Police Sgt. Eric Reyes said at the Kona station Saturday afternoon. “Be vigilant.”

The search for Gomes began Wednesday evening after a woman turned up at Kona Community Hospital with a single gunshot wound. Police originally encountered the suspect, Gomes, around 2:05 a.m. Thursday in a vehicle near Costco where the 41-year-old refused verbal commands from officers and drove his vehicle toward police, striking a police vehicle. Three officers discharged their weapons at the scene.

He was later spotted in North Kohala, where officers chased his vehicle leaving the Minit Stop and Ohana Fuels.

In two separate incidents, officers again opened fire on Gomes while he was fleeing arrest in Hawi. Following the chase from the Minit Stop, Gomes disappeared on foot into the North Kohala brush. He has not been seen since Thursday afternoon after police shot at him at as he drove away from the gas station, and again a half a mile down the road on Akoni Pule Highway by Old Camp 17 Road when he crashed into a police cruiser.

Eight officers have been put on administrative leave as a result of the shootings.

With Gomes still on the loose, Reyes reminded the public to be vigilant in their safety.

“Lock your door, don’t let people catch rides, lock your car doors,” he said.

As they did on Friday, officers took calls and responded to possible sightings of Gomes throughout the day Saturday. Around 2 p.m., Reyes said, officers went to Manuka State Wayside Park in Ka‘u on a report of a possible sighting. However, it turned up nothing.

Dixon, and Gomes’ longtime girlfriend, Aleta Nahale, said they wouldn’t describe Gomes as violent, unless he were on drugs.

“He gets violent,” Nahale said, explaining they had a very up-and-down relationship. “He struggled with an addiction to meth, which is what he’s on right now.”

Despite Gomes’ abusive behavior, Nahale said, she doesn’t want him to die or get shot by police.

“Walter’s a really, really wonderful person when he’s sober,” she said. “I’ve been there for him. I’ve seen him at his best and at his worst.”

Dixon described her son as a very caring, loving, kind-hearted person who would help anyone in time of need, as well as a very hard worker.

Dixon said she didn’t know what the shooting on Wednesday was about.

“I do know this is something my son would not do (to) someone; or something made him snap for him to do this,” she said. “If he really did this, we really don’t know what really happened.”

Dixon hopes police don’t kill her son.

“He is the only son I have who I love so dearly,” she said. “We pray that he is safe and (are) waiting on the outcome. He does have family who loves him so much. We have had sleepless nights and a lot of crying.”

Nahale was also shocked about the shooting involving the woman, despite the physical abuse she has endured at the hands of Gomes.

“I love him,” she said. “I hope they don’t shoot him or kill him, that he can get arrested and get treatment.”

Nahale left Gomes about four weeks ago after they had an argument and he assaulted her. When she heard police were pursuing him, she sent him a text and told him to turn himself in.

“He’s a good guy, he really is,” she added. “He’s obviously sunk totally into the psychosis.”

In regards to Gomes’ run-ins with police on Thursday, she doesn’t believe he was trying to hurt anyone, only trying to evade capture.

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“He doesn’t want to die,” she said.

Police caution the public against approaching Gomes, whom they consider armed and dangerous. Instead, those with information should call the department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 to report his whereabouts. People can also call Detective Brandon Mansur at 326-4646 ext. 301 or email at brandon.mansur@hawaiicounty.gov.

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