Friday, June 18, 2004

A police officer, above, looked out a window yesterday afternoon at the body of a shooting victim on the second-floor ledge of a Mayor Wright Homes unit in Kalihi.

1 dead, cop shot

A fugitive sought in a May
incident is killed after he allegedly
shoots at police officers

Another suspect is critically injured, and
an officer is in fair condition after being shot

Neighborhood sees 'Weed and Seed' success

Honolulu police shot and killed a fugitive yesterday evening in Kalihi after he had allegedly fired upon officers, injuring one in the shoulder.

Police also shot a 19-year-old suspect in the abdomen, leaving him in critical condition last night at the Queen's Medical Center.

Art The officer, who was identified as 44-year-old Ermie Barroga, was reported in fair condition at Queen's after being shot in the shoulder, but he underwent surgery last night to remove a bullet fragment lodged near the base of his skull.

The suspect who died was identified as Gordon Morse, 32. Police said he was on the second-story ledge of a Mayor Wright Homes unit along Pua Lane when he was ordered by officers on the ground to put his hands in the air at about 5 p.m. Morse and two other men had climbed out on the ledge from the third-floor unit they were in after police had surrounded the unit and ordered them to come out.

"He was pacing back and forth and had his hands hidden underneath his T-shirt," said Pua Lane resident Venus Manipon. "The uniformed police officer said, 'Put your hands up in the air!'

"But he didn't put his hands up in the air. ... He pulled out his gun, and he aimed it down and fired about five or six shots and the cops fired back."

Police and area residents surveyed the scene at 349 Pua Lane, where a man was killed, an officer was shot and two other men were arrested.

Witness Iwani Kaiwi said he heard the shots and turned just in time to see Morse and the other man go down.

"From where I was, I saw four cops shooting -- there was more police than that, but I could only see four from where I was," said Kaiwi, also a Pua Lane resident. "One guy got hit in the chest, and he fell against the wall, then fell down. ... The other guy, it looked like he got shot in the arm. I could see him kicking and yelling, and the cops pulled him back through the window that they (the suspects) climbed out through."

At a 9 p.m. press conference, Deputy Chief Glen Kajiyama said: "At this time the use of deadly force appears justified, and that our officers responded as they were trained to do -- that is, to neutralize a threat.

"We are extremely grateful that none of our officers were seriously injured."

Before Morse opened fire, one suspect, a 35-year-old male, climbed back through the third-story window, where police arrested him inside the apartment for suspicion of hindering prosecution. A 34-year-old female inside the apartment was also arrested for suspicion of hindering prosecution.

Honolulu police officers gathered at the emergency entrance of Queen's Medical Center yesterday afternoon where a fellow officer had been brought following a shooting in Kalihi.

Police had been searching for Morse in connection with a May 21 incident, when officers had attempted to pull over a pickup truck he was in near the intersection of Maunalaha Road and Round Top Drive. Officers pulled the truck over and two suspects climbed out. However, the third suspect, later identified as Morse, drove off, dragging one officer behind and causing him minor injuries.

Yesterday, police tracked Morse down to the unit and surrounded the area.

"I saw these guys get out of a dark blue van, and they started coming down the street," said Manipon. "I told my husband, 'Something's going down,' so I stayed and watched."

Kajiyama said police received a CrimeStoppers tip at 4:45 p.m. that Morse was in the third-floor unit at Mayor Wright's, and sent a group of plainclothes and uniformed police officers to make the arrest. Neighbors identified the unit that Morse was in as 33-M.

One neighbor, who lives in the same building and heard police raid the unit, said as police were coming up the stairs, they told her to "get inside and lock the door."

Access to Mayor Wright Homes in Kalihi was strictly limited after a shooting there yesterday. One man died, shown here covered by a cloth on second-floor ledge.

"They said, 'Open the door! Open the door!' and they were pounding on the door," said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "And then I heard them say, 'They jumped through the window!'

"After that I heard gunshots," she said. "A lot."

As of last night, police did not have an estimate as to how many times Morse fired upon officers, nor how many rounds officers shot. The shots rang out through the tiny street and echoed between the tightly packed apartments and homes.

"I seen them unload on him," said Steven Rodrigues, who estimated that about 10 officers opened fire on Morse.

Rodrigues said Morse was wielding what looked to be a shotgun and got off as many as 10 shots before he was killed.

Many in the street who came out to see what was going on said they thought at first that the gunshots were firecrackers.

"I didn't think nothing of gunshots," said Mayor Wright Homes resident Gloria Franklin. "I thought for sure firecrackers because it kept going and going ... too many to count."

Morse has six felony convictions for burglary, robbery and auto theft, according to police. Morse had been on the run since April 30, when police said he failed to return to the Laumaka Work Furlough Program while on a "resocialization" pass.

Morse's past

A look at Gordon Morse, 32, who was shot and killed yesterday at Mayor Wright Homes:

>> Investigation: Police suspected Morse as being the driver of a pickup truck that dragged a police officer about 10 to 15 feet in a May 21 incident on Round Top Drive that might be related to a series of car thefts and carjackings.

>> Criminal record: Six felony convictions for burglary, robbery, and auto theft

>> Also known as: Scott Pakele, Kele, Kalani and "G"

>> Description: 5 feet 9 inches tall; 180 pounds. Multiple tattoos include a skeleton with a gun on his upper left forearm, a pit bull on the left side of his left chest, a tribal symbol on his right biceps, a Hawaiian tattoo on the outside of his right calf and a mythical figure and a "USO" gang symbol on his back.

Source: Honolulu Police Department

Kajiyama said the 19-year-old suspect had no conviction record but that the other male and the female arrested had 15 convictions each.

The shooting shook what many described as a neighborhood that has been improving under the Weed & Seed Program, a collaborative law enforcement effort by federal, state and county agencies to "weed out" crime and plant "seeds" of economic growth.

"It's waking me up for be more alert," said resident Jonah Cummings, who has lived in the housing area for 20 years.

"I've been living here for 20 years myself," said Franklin, "but I live on the Liliha side, thank God."

Star-Bulletin reporters Mary Vorsino and Sally Apgar contributed to this report.


Neighborhood sees
‘Weed and Seed’ success

Pua Lane and the Mayor Wright Housing complex has a history of crime and drug trafficking, but after numerous police sting operations and the start of the "Weed and Seed" program, there has been a decline in crime in the Kalihi-Palama area, authorities said.

Over the last decade, police have been cracking down on drug distribution and arrested more than 200 people in what police have called the "drug triangle," which includes Kanoa Park, Pua Lane and Akepo Lane, near Mayor Wright Housing.

In one of the more high-profile incidents at Mayor Wright, Benedict "Tiki" Manupule, 18, was shot to death after firing at an off-duty officer during a New Year's celebration on Jan. 1, 1998.

In a July 1998 police sting, Kalihi police arrested 22 men and eight women after they purchased crack cocaine from undercover officers.

The next month, police arrested 40 people in the drug triangle. The sting was at the start of the "Weed and Seed" program, which "weeds out" drug dealers and plants the "seeds" for programs to improve the community.

Crime dropped by about 45 percent in the Kalihi/Palama/ Chinatown area in the first two years of "Weed and Seed," which halted open drug dealing on Pua Lane, authorities said in October 2000.

In the 1990s, police also set up "Delta Watch" to patrol the area to disrupt drive-through dealing. The Delta Watch unit's members watched for small problems like illegal parking, jaywalking, loitering and drinking in public.

"It's been awfully quiet lately in that area," Bernadette Young, chairwoman of the Kaliha-Palama Neighborhood Board, said yesterday.

But Kalihi resident Eric Purcell said that drug houses still thrive in the late-night hours. "Nobody wants to be out in the neighborhood at those times," he said.


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