Victim was family man who loved kids, cars
The suspected killer in a Big Isle shooting was fatally injured in a wreck hours later
STORY SUMMARY »
When Hawaiian Paradise Park resident Lani Furlong hears gunshots in her neighborhood south of Hilo, she knows the sound is hunters shooting at pigs. But when she heard a woman screaming after a single shot Tuesday morning, she and her husband called 911.
Police yesterday identified the shooting victim as Jeremy Napoleon, 28, of Paradise Park. Neighbors said he was a pleasant person with a long-term girlfriend and four children.
The suspected shooter, who died in a car accident three hours after the shooting, was identified as Noel "Bear" Smith, 45, of Kurtistown.
FULL STORY »
HILO » Lani Furlong and her husband Bill were upstairs in their two-story house south of Hilo when they heard a sharp sound Tuesday morning.
"Paaah!" she said, imitating the sound she knew was a gunshot.
Then there was silence. The neighbors have a noisy dog, and Furlong thought someone finally got angry enough to shoot it.
"A minute goes by and then the lady goes into hysterics," Furlong said. She heard the woman apparently on a telephone. "Ma! They shot him."
Furlong's husband called 911.
Police identified the victim yesterday as Jeremy Napoleon, 28. Neighbors said he lived with his girlfriend and four children.
Police also identified the suspected shooter, Noel Smith, 45, known to friends as "Bear." He died in a single-car accident on the other side of the island about three hours after the shooting, they said. Smith ran off the road and was thrown from the car, and a firearm was found at the accident site, they said.
Police were still trying to determine a motive for the shooting.
Hawaiian Paradise Park, 20 minutes south of Hilo by car, consists of more than 8,000 one-acre lots, many forested, only a third with homes, but is like suburbia. Right across the street from Napoleon's home on Paradise Drive is a Jehovah's Witness church.
When Furlong hears gunshots, she knows it's neighbors shooting at pigs.
"It really doesn't disturb us," she said. "When it's coupled with screaming, now, something is wrong."
Next door to Furlong, Jay Abella heard the gunshot, too. He heard someone shout, "He's not f-- breathing."
Police said Napoleon was shot in the chest. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.
A block away, family members gathered yesterday at the home of Napoleon's friend Matthew Christenson.
"He loved his children. He was madly in love," Christenson said.
Napoleon was a hunter. The family showed photos of him with huge pigs. He was a super-heavyweight boxer, weighing 288 pounds, fighting at 260, the brother said. Court records put his height at 6-foot-3.
Napoleon had six minor charges for missing court dates and a 1999 petty misdemeanor charge for theft.
He also had a 1998 felony charge for car theft. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years' probation.
Suspected shooter Smith had no criminal record in Hawaii.
Napoleon's love of cars, along with his friends' affection for them, caused some irritation. Napoleon's visitors would rev their car engines during services at the Jehovah's Witness hall, said church member Sherry Hartley.
Abella said Napoleon and friends would drive ATVs through Abella's back yard or on the vacant lot next door. They'd also "burn rubber" on the street near the church.
"That was a party house," Furlong said. But she added, "This is not a druggy neighborhood. This is a good place."