(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi Police combed lower Kalōpā in Hāmākua on Friday in search of Ronald Kahihikolo, a suspect in a Kaʻū shooting, who was last seen on foot in the area of Highway 19 near the 40 mile marker.
Kahihikolo led police to the area as he apparently fled a scene in Kona where an officer-involved shooting resulted in the death of another, unidentified man. Police pursued Kahihikolo – who was driving a stolen white Dodge sedan – through Waimea to the Kalōpā area.
“The area where the suspect’s vehicle came to a stop was right next to a gulch,” said Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz in a news conference held later in the day.. “The gulch is probably 100 to 200 feet deep in that area, and the walls of the gulch are pretty sheer. So we have positioned persons on both sides of the gulch, in case the suspect was able to enter the Gulch. We do have that area kind of surrounded.”
“It’s very rural,” Chief Moszkowicz added. “There’s a lot of pasture land. There are horses and cows all over and the road is very unimproved. So it’s definitely a country road. There are dirt roads and rocks all over the place, and it’s probably a half a mile or so from the coastline and also maybe a mile or so from the Highway 19, the Belt Road, at the top.”
Video recorded at the scene shows police conducting traffic stops on Highway 19, and checking the trunks of passing vehicles, apparently in search of Kahihikolo.
“This is an armed and extremely dangerous person who does not want to be captured, and he poses a humongous hazard to the community,” said Chief Moszkowicz. “There’s probably a dozen to 20 houses that might be makai of Highway 19, there, in the area by Kalōpā State Park. There’s not a whole lot more. It’s mostly pasture land and the houses that are there, some of them are unoccupied. We have been able to reach out to all the occupied structures at least in the area, that we know about, and been able to speak with the homeowners.”
“Now that the sun is starting to go on down here on the Big Island, we’re also using night vision technology, and forward-looking infrared radar technology, to help us to actually, maybe, be able to spot him a little bit better at night,” the chief added. “Because his body heat signature might contrast with the the outlines of the surrounding terrain. So we’re definitely doing a grid search in that area outside of the gulch area.”