Thursday, March 6, 2003

Frances Gongob, left, Ellen Gusman and Paul Gusman, relatives of slain police officer Glen Gaspar, showed their emotions yesterday after a memorial service held in front of the Baskin-Robbins store where Gaspar was killed.

HPD cop’s kin
struggle to deal
with his death

Dozens gather for memorial

By Sally Apgar

The 11-year-old daughter of Glen Gaspar, the undercover police officer fatally gunned down in a Kapolei ice cream store Tuesday afternoon, wanted to tell her father she loved him one last time.

Before she could go to bed Tuesday night, Taysia Gaspar dialed her father's cell phone knowing she could only get a recording of his voice. But she did it so she "could hear his voice once more and tell him she loved him," said her mother, Renee Gaspar.

Married to the officer for 12 years, Gaspar cried softly and steadily yesterday into the phone as she described the father of her two daughters and the man who "is still my best friend" despite their 2001 divorce.

"He wasn't just some cop," said Gaspar, 38, who works in training and development for AT&T. "He was a wonderful person and a wonderful father. He was a person you can't just have cut out of your life."

Fellow police officers said yesterday that Glen Gaspar died a hero, doing the job he loved.

HPD Officer Glen Gaspar with his daughters Taysia-Jamie Gaspar, left, and Kiana-Leigh Gaspar on Father's Day 1999.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Gaspar and several other undercover officers, members of an elite Career Criminal unit, had been staking out the Baskin-Robbins in the Kapolei Shopping Center. Acting on a tip, they were watching for Shane Mark, a 28-year-old fugitive with 14 convictions for crimes that included assault of a police officer, petty theft to auto theft. This time, Mark was wanted for attempted murder and was considered dangerous.

Police said Mark had a gun in his waistband as he walked into Baskin-Robbins about 1 p.m.

Gaspar and at least one other officer rushed the store. Fellow officers said privately yesterday they believe Gaspar did not pull his gun because he did not want to risk the safety of any customers or workers in the shop. They believe it was the right decision but that it probably cost him his life.

As the men wrestled to the floor of the ice cream store, Mark allegedly pulled the gun out and fired into Gaspar.

According to emergency personnel, Gaspar had made another costly decision: He did not wear a bulletproof vest under his aloha shirt.

"He loved his job and being part of an elite unit that picked him to be one of them," said fellow Honolulu Detective Russell Won. "He worked hard and always wanted to prove himself."

A close friend, Won knew Gaspar for 22 years, back to the days when the two worked for the city and county in the street lighting division and dreamed of doing bigger things for the police force.

"He wanted to do something for the community," said Won. "He also always liked action and excitement, and the Police Department gave him that.

"He wasn't just a beat officer. He really worked hard and excelled at what he did. He was never just handed something. He earned everything he accomplished."

Won and Gaspar have raised their families with each other.

Yesterday, Taysia spent time at the Wons' house. Won said that when the family rushed to the hospital Tuesday afternoon, one of his daughters refused to go. "She didn't want to actually see something that she knew could happen (to me)," said Won.

Gaspar grew up in Alewa Heights, the youngest of three boys. His brother Greig works for the Waimanalo Health Center, and his oldest brother, Gilbert, is a police officer on the Big Island.

Glen and Renee Gaspar started dating after meeting in 1986 when she was a 22-year-old contestant in a Honolulu beauty pageant and his brother Greig was one of her coaches.

At the time, Gaspar was working as a line electrician for the city.

But his ex-wife remembered yesterday how he would talk passionately about "how he wanted to make a difference in the world and he wanted to be a police officer."

When their first daughter, Kiana, was born, she said Gaspar decided to join the police force. But Kiana and, later, her sister Taysia would not be lost as priorities in his life. He was always involved in his daughters' lives and coached their volleyball and soccer teams.

When Gaspar and his wife divorced in 2001, they worked hard to set aside any differences and focus on working together to raise their daughters.

Won also said Gaspar and his ex-wife "had a really good, strong relationship" and were still close friends.

During the week, the girls were mostly with their mother, but sometimes their father was there when they came home from school, and he helped them with their homework.

Just Monday night when he dropped the girls off at their mom's Kailua home, he talked proudly of Kiana's basketball skills and hoped she would play in high school.

Yesterday morning when her daughters woke up to a world without their father, Kiana, 13, picked up the newspaper with the account of her father's death and bravery splashed across the front page.

Kiana asked her mother, How come "they only figured out now that he was a hero?"

Honolulu Police Department

District 8 police chaplain Alex Vergara, left, and kahu Kordell Kekoa, a classmate of Glen Gaspar, officiated at yesterday's memorial service for Gaspar in front of the Kapolei Shopping Center Baskin-Robbins store.

Dozens gather for memorial
at shop where cop died

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Greig Gaspar recalled how his mother lectured him that as Glen Gaspar's older brother, he needed to watch over and protect Glen from getting hurt.

"I couldn't protect him yesterday," said Greig Gaspar as tears pooled in his reddened eyes. "If I could change places with him, I would."

Gaspar, along with more than 30 family members, friends and fellow police officers, attended a memorial held in front of Baskin-Robbins at Kapolei Shopping Center yesterday to pay respects to the slain officer.

Honolulu police officer Glen Gaspar, 40, allegedly was shot and killed by Shane Mark on Tuesday during a struggle at the ice cream store.

Flowers, candles and balloons were placed in front of the ice cream store by loved ones, residents and workers.

Larry Kee, owner of Baskin-Robbins, closed the store yesterday in honor of Gaspar.

"It affects me profoundly," said Kee.

Kee added that many of Gaspar's fellow police officers and friends came to Baskin-Robbins on Tuesday night.

Kordell Kekoa, a chaplain and 1980 alumnus of Gaspar's alma mater Kamehameha Schools, conducted the memorial and blessing. Police chaplain Alex Vergara also spoke at the memorial on behalf of the Honolulu Police Department.

During the memorial, Kekoa said that he played soccer with Gaspar at Kamehameha. He described Gaspar as a public servant who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect others.

"This is a reminder that we do not live in a perfect world. ... We need to keep our heads up," Kekoa said.

Officers wore a thin black stripe across their police badges in Gaspar's honor.

Joe Tabarejo, a police officer with the Crime Reduction Unit, was with Gaspar when he was shot twice in the chest.

Tabarejo said he was one of the undercover officers who administered first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Gaspar until the ambulance arrived.

"It hurts," said Tabarejo. "When you lose a good officer, it hurts."

Gaspar's cousins wiped away tears as Kekoa spoke and blessed the area.

"He was very bubbly, very family-oriented," said Gaspar's cousin Lisa Chung.

Greig Gaspar said he and his family have received an outpouring of support from friends, the Honolulu Police Department and businesses at the Kapolei Shopping Center.

First Hawaiian Bank has donated $2,500 to start a fund under Glen Gaspar's name to help support the education of his two daughters, Kiana, 13, and Taysia, 11

Gaspar's family members are also planning to create a fund for Glen's children.

So far, Campbell Estate and Kapolei businesses have donated more than $11,000 to the First Hawaiian fund.

Greig Gaspar said he has not slept since the shooting.

"I'm just in shock."

While the family learned of Glen's death in the emergency room at St. Francis Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon, Gaspar said he was crushed to hear his 11-year-old niece Taysia tell his friend, "I didn't tell my daddy goodbye."

"This is my worst nightmare," he said. "I never thought this would happen."

Honolulu Police Department

E-mail to City Desk


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