Drug use tripped
up model inmate
The man shot dead in a
Man accused of protecting fugitive
police standoff is described
as cordial and cooperative
The fugitive shot dead by police last week had been a model inmate and was likely weeks away from parole when he failed to return from a work furlough on April 30, officials said yesterday.
"Everything was good about him," said Dovie Borges, unit manager at Laumaka Furlough Program. "We didn't see him as violent or capable of hurting anybody. The gun and the whole thing just kind of blew us away. I was shocked and saddened."
Gordon Morse was killed in a shootout with police Thursday at Mayor Wright Homes in Kalihi. According to police and witness accounts, officers returned fire after Morse shot at police from a second-story ledge. One officer, Ermie Barroga Jr., was shot in the shoulder. He was released from the Queen's Medical Center on Sunday.
While in the work furlough program, Morse was employed at VIP Transportation, driving a shuttle for tourists. He was well-behaved and well-groomed, Borges said.
"He was always cordial, very respectful," Borges said. "To see him shot dead up on that ledge, I thought I was looking at somebody else."
The 32-year-old's problem was drugs, but he had been clean for a year, Borges said.
"He wasn't a monster," she said. "He was an ordinary guy. A drug problem put him on that ledge with a gun."
Tommy Johnson, Hawaii Paroling Authority administrator, said, "Chances are, when the board saw him in May, there was a good likelihood he would either be paroled then or in a few months."
Morse had been arrested 21 times and convicted nine times -- three misdemeanors and six felonies, which included three auto thefts, a first-degree burglary and two second-degree robberies.
In 1996, Morse admitted to his probation officer he had been using a gram of ice daily for three years. He was first sentenced to prison Feb. 20, 1997, had gone through Laumaka, and was released July 18, 2000.
He returned to prison in 2002 after violating parole. He was sent to the Oklahoma Diamondback Correctional Facility, where he completed a drug treatment program. He was later transferred to Oahu Community Correctional Facility, and to the Laumaka program, which transitions prisoners back into the community and boasts a 90 percent success rate.
Police had been searching for Morse after a series of carjackings and accidents in the Tantalus-Punahou area on May 21. Morse was allegedly driving a stolen pickup truck that police tried to stop on Round Top Drive. He allegedly drove off, dragging an officer behind. The officer suffered minor leg injuries.
"We know Morse was involved in a lot of auto thefts and a lot of break-ins," said Honolulu Police Department's Auto Theft Detail Lt. Hank Nobriga.
But police had trouble finding him. "He kept bouncing from place to place," Nobriga said.
Borges said Morse "was ripping off cars to feed his habit.
"As his drug problem escalated, the crimes against property switched to crimes against people."
"I'm just saddened that he was one of the people that couldn't be saved," Borges said. "We're always going to have that question as to what is it that we missed. It haunts me."
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Kalihi man accused
of protecting fugitive
A Kalihi man "slammed and locked the front door" of his apartment as police arrived to arrest fugitive Gordon Morse on Thursday, according to a police affidavit.
Wade K. Martin, 34, was arraigned yesterday in Honolulu District Court on a count of hindering prosecution. Police allege that Martin locked officers out of unit 33M of the Mayor Wright Homes at 1211 Pua Lane when they arrived to arrest Morse.
Morse and Manuel Kalaluhi, 19, climbed out a back window and down to a second-story ledge where they were surrounded by police on the ground. Police said Morse then pulled out a "gray metal handgun" and fired, injuring officer Ermie Barroga Jr. Police returned fire, killing Morse and wounding Kalaluhi.
Police arrested Martin in the apartment. Also arrested for suspicion of hindering prosecution was Laura E. Tavares, 33, who police said was "sitting calmly in one of the rooms ... well within earshot" of their commands to open the door.
But Tavares' mother said her daughter did not know Morse or Kalaluhi.
"She was at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Geraldine Chai. "I was with her at Mayor Wright before the shooting started. ... Those guys weren't there. It was just her and Wade."
Tavares was released pending investigation. Martin is being held on $35,000 bail.