Maui police unsure if shooting was negligent or criminal; hunting, poaching investigated
By Wendy Osher and Kehaulani Cerizo
The victim of a Maui Veterans Highway shooting Wednesday was not targeted, and police alluded to hunting and poaching in the area during a news conference today at the Wailuku station.
Still, officials asked for the public’s assistance with any information on the shooting that happened around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday near Mile Marker 5 on Maui Veterans Highway.
A male, 66, part-time resident was driving with his wife in the passenger seat and his three teenage kids in the backseat toward Kīhei when he suffered a gunshot wound to the head. The victim was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center and remains in critical but stable condition today, police said.
An investigation into murder in the second degree was opened, and no one is currently in custody, police said.
Although the highway was temporarily closed around the time of the incident, officials said it was determined that the community was not in danger.
“The reason why we felt it was safe to open the highway was we didnʻt have any other evidence at that time or at this time to say that thereʻs an individual [at] large, or that that risk is still posing a threat to the community; and because of that, we made that determination,” said Police Chief John Pelletier.
Police during the news conference today said that night hunting, poaching and trespassing have occurred in the area. Police ATV patrols have increased in the wake of the shooting.
“We have increased some patrols — I don’t want to get into specifics, because we do have some operations — but like detective (Nick Angell) said, we do know that our community has hunters,” Pelletier said. “We do know that our axis deer have become a problem for months now. We do know that we are in a drought, and because of those factors, the elevation for some of these animals that have been hunted has been going lower and lower, and lower.”
Police said the department has nothing to believe the individual who was injured was targeted.
“We donʻt want our citizens or our visitors to ever feel that Maui County is not safe and the whole purpose of us being here is to provide public safety,” said Pelletier. “If we thought that there was a threat, we would do everything to get that threat. Itʻs an investigation at this point. We’re still determining facts.”
John Foster, Maui Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division captain, said public safety is a priority. He asked that people contact the department if they have any information on that night.
“With that, we ask you the public to assist us as best you can,” he said. “If someone would know something . . . around the time of 6:30 [p.m.] that day, let us know.”
Members of the public can call Maui police at the department’s non-emergency number, 808-244-6400, or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 808-242-6966.