HONOLULU — A next-door neighbor of a man accused of stabbing a woman and fatally shooting two Hawaii police officers said he was assaulted by the suspect years ago and wanted him evicted from their upscale neighborhood near Waikiki Beach.
Warren Daniel, who lived next to Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel and had a restraining order against him, said that during a 2014 argument about plants, Hanel grabbed his shirt and pushed him into a tree, according to court documents.
Hanel was arrested on an assault charge but later acquitted.
Hanel is believed to have set his home and neighborhood ablaze after killing two Honolulu police officers, stabbing a neighbor and killing his landlord on Sunday.
Police believe he was in the home when it burned and said the remains of two people were found Tuesday. A medical examiner is working to identify the remains, but Hanel and his landlord were the only two people unaccounted for.
Hanel's landlord, Lois Cain, let him live in the home rent free in return for work. Cain recently sought to evict Hanel, and his attorney suggested that she may have confronted him before Sunday's violence.
Hanel has had a series of recent run-ins with police, and other neighbors have taken out restraining orders against him.
“It was pretty clear he was out of control," said attorney David Hayakawa, who represented Daniel and two other neighbors in their restraining orders.
Neighbors complained that Hanel hid in bushes, chased cars down the street, confronted guests and workers who came to their homes, recorded people with a camera on his hat and sent smoke from a barbecue grill directly into their windows, Hayakawa said.
It's not clear where Hanel obtained the firearm allegedly used to shoot the police. He didn't have a permit to own guns.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported a close friend said Cain kept a storage locker filled with her late husband's firearms under her bed. Janice Morrow said she didn't know whether the guns had still been under Cain's bed during these past 3 1/2 weeks when Morrow most recently visited her friend. Morrow said she tried to support Cain in her efforts to evict Hanel.
On Sunday morning, two neighbors said they heard piercing screams from the home and saw Hanel stabbing and beating another tenant of the residence with a three-pronged garden hoe, the Star-Advertiser reported.
Elklen Farmer Freeman and her husband, Russell Freeman, went next door and asked Hanel to stop. He threw the tool down but punched the woman until another neighbor, Jennifer Tema, intervened and the injured woman got away, the Freemans said.
The tenant told her neighbors that Cain was inside Hanel's apartment and in danger, said Tema, who went to the apartment and said she “heard him beating, bludgeoning someone."
Police arrived and were met with a barrage of gunfire. Two officers were killed before the house was set on fire and the flames spread to several surrounding homes.
Honolulu police will investigate whether their response to the 911 call was appropriate and whether they could or should have responded differently, said Joseph Giacalone, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and retired New York City police sergeant.
He said it appears the two officers were ambushed and “it doesn’t seem like they had a chance” when they were shot.
“Unless they had stayed in their cars down the block, they would have been caught in the gunfire,” Giacalone said.
Investigators will review details of the initial 911 call and see if dispatchers checked the address to determine how many previous complaints had occurred there and whether that information was given to the officers, Giacalone said.
“They will try to find a way to make sense of it and develop better tactics and procedures just in case there was something that could have been done,” he said.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard told Hawaii News Now that she hopes to improve how officers deal with people with mental illness.
“We have to be able to track people who are mentally ill,” she said. “Not just to track them but to get them the services they need.”
According to documents in the assault case filed by Hanel's neighbor, the landlord wasn't responsive.
Cain only last week sought to evict Hanel, according to court records and his lawyer.
Lawyer Jonathan Burge has represented Hanel in the disputes with neighbors since 2015, and three temporary restraining orders have been issued. Hanel, a native of the Czech Republic, was planning to go to trial on a charge of misusing 911 services, Burge said.
He said he never knew Hanel to be violent but said Hanel thought the government was watching him and tapping his phone.
Cain was supportive of Hanel in his disputes, Burge said. But she wanted to move into the home.
Burge said their relationship also soured because Hanel’s dog had died and Cain wouldn’t let him get a new one.
In the complaint for Hanel's eviction, Cain said Hanel did not have a rental agreement and refused to leave despite repeated demands.
Hanel didn't seem to have any family, Burge said.