Man gets 40 years for shooting
Ernest Chavira Jr. of Kihei shot at police officers in a park on Maui in 2004
A Maui Circuit Court judge sentenced a Kihei man to 40 years in prison for shooting at a group of off-duty police officers holding a barbecue at a public park three years ago.
Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza sentenced Ernest Chavira Jr., 30, on Thursday to two 20-year consecutive terms for attempted manslaughter and use of a firearm in a commission of a felony.
"That is a significant time of imprisonment. We are satisfied," said Deputy Prosecutor Robert Rivera.
About 9:30 p.m. May 12, 2004, 10 off-duty police officers and three civilians were having a barbecue at Kalama Park Pavilion.
Lt. Lester Wong, who was working as a patrol sergeant, said he just got off work and headed to the park located across from Kihei Police Station. The get-together was held for a fellow officer who was to be transferred to Lanai.
While at the pavilion, police had said, Chavira and another man confronted and taunted them. Both men left, but returned a few minutes later.
Wong said he saw Chavira walking around picnic tables and along the shoreline. Wong said he then stepped behind a large tree about 15 yards away from the police officers and came out with a hood over his head that covered his face.
Chavira, armed with a .44-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, fired one shot toward police officers before he fled.
Wong and other police officers ran after Chavira through the parking lot when he fired a second shot that went through the window of a fellow officer's Toyota Tacoma.
Another officer fired a single shot at Chavira as he fled the area with another man. Wong said they lost sight of them as he ran into a residential area. No one was hurt.
"We were lucky that nobody got hit," Wong said.
Police arrested Chavira the following day. Police also arrested the other man, but he was later released.
Chavira is expected to be transported to Halawa Correctional Facility from Maui Community Correctional Center. Later, he is slated to be transferred to a mainland prison.
Defense attorney David Sereno, who represented Chavira, could not be reached for comment yesterday. According to the Maui News, Sereno said Chavira had been drinking and using crystal methamphetamine for days before the incident.
At the time of the shooting, Chavira was suffering from paranoia and had gone to the park to get more drugs, Sereno said in the article.
He said Chavira was unaware that he had confronted police officers.
Wong, a 23-1/2 year veteran who now works at the Lanai Station, said this type of shooting is alarming because it generally does not happen on Maui.