By CALEB JONES and JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU (AP) — A next door neighbor of a handyman accused of stabbing a woman and killing two Hawaii police officers before setting his home and neighborhood ablaze said he had been assaulted by the man and wanted him evicted years ago, according to court documents.
The suspected killer, Jaroslav “Jerry” Hanel, is missing but police believe he was in the home when it was destroyed by fire. His remains have not been found. Two other women were also believed to be missing, but Honolulu police said Tuesday that one of them had been located.
Hanel’s landlord, Lois Cain, also is missing and presumed dead. She let Hanel live in the home free in return for his work. She recently tried to evict him and Hanel’s attorney has suggested that she may have confronted him about leaving and that is when he became violent.
Warren Daniel, who lived next door to Hanel and had a restraining order against him, said that during a 2014 argument about plants Hanel believed were encroaching on his property, he grabbed Daniel’s shirt and pushed him into a tree, according to court documents.
Hanel was arrested on an assault charge but later acquitted.
After that, Hanel had a series of run-ins with police and other neighbors took 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 obtaining 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, said Hayakawa.
On Sunday morning, two neighbors said they heard piercing screams from the home and saw Hanel beating another tenant of the residence with a three-pronged garden hoe, The Honolulu 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 Hanel’s 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 ablaze and the fire 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.
“Was there an opportunity that the officers could have been involved in the shooting but had a chance to defend themselves?,” he said.
Giacalone added: “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.”
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.
Hanel’s lawyer, Burge, represented his client since 2015 in the disputes with neighbors and three temporary restraining orders were issued. Hanel, a native of the Czech Republic, faced an upcoming hearing 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 have any family, Burge said.
Associated Press freelance photographer Marco Garcia contributed to this report.
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