Honolulu, HI – Honolulu Police Department (HPD) Officer Tiffany Enriquez was murdered in the line of duty as she was responding to a home to help a stabbing victim on Sunday.
The incident began at approximately 9 a.m., when 69-year-old Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel allegedly stabbed an individual who was attempting to evict him from his Hibiscus Drive home near Diamond Head, KHNL reported.
Hanel’s landlord had also attempted to evict him on Friday, but he refused to sign the eviction paperwork she brought him.
When Officer Enriquez, 38, and her fellow officers arrived at the scene, they found the landlady bleeding from a stab wound to her leg, KHON reported.
She was rushed to a local hospital in serious condition, KHNL reported.
The officers then began approaching the home, at which point Hanel ambushed them.
Officer Enriquez was fatally struck by at least one of the rounds, KHON reported.
Officer Kaulike Kalama, a nine-year veteran-of-the-force, was fatally shot by the gunman as he advanced towards the home with a second group of officers.
Witnesses saw the wounded officers being dragged into the street away from the gunfire, KHNL reported.
They were both wearing ballistic vests, but were shot above the area where the vests covered, according to ABC News.
Officer Enriquez and Officer Kalama were rushed to Queen’s Medical Center in extremely critical condition, where they succumbed to their wounds.
Hanel then allegedly set fire to his home, igniting a blaze that quickly spread to 12 other nearby residences, KHON reported.
Neighbors scrambled to douse the flames with garden hoses, but were no match for the inferno.
Seven homes – including the house where the gunman was living – burned to the ground, according to KHNL.
Several HPD patrol vehicles were also burned.
Hanel is believed to have died in the blaze, but his body has not yet been recovered, ABC News reported.
According to court documents, the gunman had a history of making false 911 calls and of behaving erratically, KHNL reported.
His attorney described him as delusional, and said he believed he was being tracked by federal agents.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said that Hanel did not have any permits to own firearms, according to KHNL.
Police are also searching the rubble for the remains of two women who lived in the residence with Hanel. They have been unaccounted for since the incident occurred.
Chief Ballard struggled to fight back tears as she released the names of the murdered officers during a press conference on Sunday afternoon, KHNL reported.
“They were like my kids,” Chief Ballard said of Officer Enriquez and Officer Kalama. “They were with me for five years at receiving desk when I was major there…So, when they first came into the department up until I made chief, I knew them personally.”
Officer Enriquez, a seven-year veteran of the HPD, has three daughters and one grandson, her cousin, Leilani Benvante Naser, told KAUM.
She served in the Air Force Reserves and worked as a corrections officer before she joined the HPD.
Officer Enriquez was also a competitive bodybuilder, and was named the Heroes Champion of the NPC Pacific Island Championships Bikini Class in 2018.
“She was always the life in the party. She had a really big laugh she was just always happy-go-lucky,” Naser told KAUM. “She just put everything into whatever she did.”
“On behalf of the men and women of the Honolulu Police Department, our deepest condolences go out to the families,” Chief Ballard said, according to KHNL. “The HPD ohana grieve along with you.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that the attack was an “unprecedented tragedy” for the city of Honolulu.
“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the two officers as well as the entire Honolulu Police Department,” Caldwell said. “This is a family, and people are grieving.”
Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard said that the deadly ambush is a reminder of the potentially deadly situations law enforcement officers encounter on a regular basis.
“While we all mourn the heartbreaking loss of two of Honolulu’s finest, their fellow first responders are still out there,” Gabbard said, according to ABC News.” Our prayers are with the families of the officers we lost, and with first responders still working to keep our communities safe.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Honolulu Police Department Officer Tiffany Enriquez, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Tiffany Enriquez, your life mattered.