Tuesday, September 16, 2003

This is the replica gun the suspect used in yesterday's confrontation, police say.

Police shoot man
holding replica gun

Shots and a foot chase
rattle schoolkids and
neighbors in Kaimuki

Honolulu police sprayed a man with pepper spray, shot him once in the shoulder and then chased him through a Kaimuki neighborhood after he allegedly resisted arrest and pulled out a replica gun at the scene of a two-car accident yesterday.


The accident, described by police as a fender bender, took place about 10 a.m. in the parking lot of St. Patrick's School near Harding and 6th avenues. Patrol officers responded to the scene and were told by police dispatchers that one of the drivers involved in the accident, 27-year-old Oliver Shawn Tela, had a probation revocation warrant for his arrest.

"He kept dodging police," said Brian Nurding, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at St. Patrick's School, who at the time had 30 sixth-graders getting ready to go to homeroom lined up near a second-floor railing overlooking the action in the parking lot. "They sprayed him with something in the face; he wiped it off his face, then he ran across the street."

Police said officers sprayed Tela with pepper spray because he was resisting arrest. When that did not stop Tela, an officer grabbed a baton, and that's when police said the suspect reached for what looked to be a real gun.

"The suspect continued to resist and subsequently reached for his fanny pack and took out what appeared to be a handgun," said Honolulu police Chief Lee Donohue. "One of the officers fired three shots at the suspect, wounding him in the shoulder."

Nurding said that by then he and his students could no longer see what was happening, but they did hear the gunshots.

"It was obvious that the police officers were firing," he said. "The students immediately dropped. They didn't need instructions. We stayed right there.

"At some point, I decided it was safe to get up, and we moved quickly into the classroom."

Donohue said the suspect fled after he was shot and ran through the back yards of residents. Neighbors living along 9th Avenue said they spotted a man coming from behind a home on the 1000 block with a bloody shirt and that police caught up to him and ordered him to throw down his weapon and lie on the ground.

This time, the suspect complied, according to witnesses, and police arrested him on the probation revocation warrant and for terroristic threatening. He was then taken by ambulance to the Queen's Medical Center, where he was treated and released back into police custody.

At St. Patrick's, officials had ordered a lockdown for all 540 students in their classrooms until police gave the all-clear at 12:30 p.m.

"Everyone is OK. ... The children were excellent," said Principal Sister Rose Schillinger. "It was scary for all of us -- me, too.

"But the police were wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. ... They were very concerned about us all."

Donohue said the 27-year-old officer involved in the shooting has been on the force for 14 months and that he handled the situation "the way he was trained to do." In the meantime the officer has been put on administrative leave during an investigation by police Internal Affairs detectives into the shooting, as is procedure whenever an officer's weapon is discharged.

Tela had been serving five years' probation for a robbery to which he pleaded guilty in 2001. On Aug. 25 his probation was revoked, and a $10,000 bench warrant was issued for his arrest.

The city's replica gun ordinance was signed into law by Mayor Jeremy Harris on July 16. It prohibits anyone from carrying replica guns in public.

Donohue said yesterday's situation illustrates the dangers that replica guns pose for police and the public, "because the officers ... really can't determine whether this thing is a real gun or a replica."


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