Monday, June 4, 2001

Police kill
gunman at party

Two others at the
party were also shot

By Leila Fujimori
and Treena Shapiro

Kurt Umeno and his wife, Llorie, were awakened by a phone call around 2 a.m. yesterday.

It was their neighbor, 20-year-old Dustin Long, saying he was having trouble with party crashers and needed help.

Three hours later, Long was dead, shot and killed by police, his Karsten Street home in Wahiawa surrounded by a squad of specialized services officers, an armored military tank standing by.

Two other men, 18 and 20, were wounded, allegedly by gunshots fired by a distraught Long. They were taken to Wahiawa General Hospital. Among the nurses on duty in the emergency room that night was Long's mother, Cynthia.

In the aftermath, it also was learned that Long, a construction worker, was to appear in Circuit Judge Victoria Marks' courtroom today. He was to be sentenced after pleading no contest to auto theft and fraudulent use of a license plate. Prosecutors were expected to dismiss the charges after they receive a death certificate.

A day after the shootings, police, family and friends were trying to make sense of what happened at 290 Karsten St., where Long lived with his widowed mother and where a Leilehua High School graduation party turned violent.

Police were not immediately available to answer criticisms about their actions, but according to Long's friends, this was how the deadly night unfolded, ending with a mother's anguished screams in the early morning:

Long and his best friend, Chancey Jarvis, 21, had been at a party for a friend graduating from Leilehua Saturday night, according to Jarvis' brother, James. The party then moved to Long's home.

Melissa Hernandez said Long was her best friend, like a brother. She had left the party before the trouble started, but got a phone call from Long just before 3 a.m.

"He was breaking down. He said he is going to miss me, and help me, and that he loves me."

She said he told her, "There are cops all over my driveway, and I have a loaded gun."

James Jarvis, who was not at the party, said the problem began when five men crashed the gathering and began fighting with Chancey, knocking him unconscious.

Umeno and another neighbor, Wayne Tavares, ran over to break up the fight. Meanwhile, Llorie Umeno called Cynthia Long at the hospital.

Friends say Kurt Umeno, 29, was the one person Dustin Long would always turn to for help, money, food and even a place to stay when he had problems. After Long's father died about four years ago, Umeno -- who would fix motorcycles with Long's father -- became closer to the younger man.

After his father's death, "I knew he needed somebody around, so I was there," Umeno said. "He was like my younger brother."

Umeno and Tavares arrived at the home about 2:15 a.m., to find a crowd of about 50 people. No one wanted to leave.

"At 2:30 a.m., (Long) came flying out," Umeno said.

"Dustin was really trying to break up the fight," Tavares added.

Tavares said Long jumped on a wall in front of his house and fired four shots with a .22-caliber rifle at a car carrying three young men, described as the troublemakers.

Once the gunfire started, everybody started running and left, Umeno said.

One of the two men shot was released from Wahiawa hospital; the other was transferred to Kaiser Permanente's Moanalua Medical Center, where he was in stable condition.

The mother of the 18-year-old victim said that her son did not know Long and had not been involved in the fight with Jarvis. He was shot as he was getting into the car to leave, she said.

When police arrived at Long's home at 2:45 a.m., the fighting in the street was long over.

"When the SWAT team arrived, that's when (Long) panicked," Umeno said. "That's when he called my cell (phone)." At first there were only a few police officers, then about 15 specialized services officers arrived and were poised with their weapons aimed at Long, Tavares said.

Long told Umeno he would give himself up, but that he was scared of being shot.

Umeno was positioned in the basement of the house next door and worked with a police negotiator, who asked him to calm Long down and talk him out.

"As soon as I see you coming up my driveway with a cigarette, then I'll come with you and give myself up because I'm scared to come out myself," Long told Umeno over the cellular phone.

Long called Umeno more than a dozen times pleading him to walk him out.

"These guys don't want me to come out, then I'll just come out shooting," Long told Umeno. "If you can't come and get me, what am I gonna do?"

But each time, police refused to allow Umeno to go to him or even show his face at the gate.

Long became more agitated, Umeno said, and began yelling.

"I don't even see you," Long said to Umeno. "Maybe it's better I take a bullet and shoot myself."

That's when Umeno said Long shot a single round into the air. "Where are you? I need you," he pleaded and started crying.

"It could have been prevented in the first 15 minutes," Umeno said. But police refused to allow him to go to Long.

"That's my friend. I back him up 100 percent," Umeno said. "It felt like one of those times I could back him up and they wouldn't let me."

Umeno said Long's last words to him were: "You know what, I know you're not coming. I love you. Take care," and he hung up.

At about 4:30 a.m., police escorted Umeno further down the street near a bus stop where the area had been cordoned off, and had him talk to another negotiator. He was instructed not to talk to Long any more and to just wait. Sometime between 4:30 and 5 a.m., Umeno heard a loud shot.

Sometime during the standoff, an Army armored personnel carrier and a police helicopter arrived.

According to a police report, Long yelled profanities and threatened to shoot police. Then at 4:51 a.m., according to the report, Long fired a shot at two officers. He was then shot once by a sharpshooter.

Neighbor Gary Shounk, who had been Long's boss at D.A. Builders, where he worked as a construction laborer, said when he heard the shot, "In my heart, I knew he was already dead."

Friends were upset at the way police treated Cynthia Long. They said she continually asked what was going on, but police told her nothing.

It wasn't until the ambulance was leaving that Cynthia Long discovered her son had been fatally shot, Shounk said. The ambulance stopped and the driver and his partner got out and said something to her.

That's when she began to scream, Shounk said.

Last night, friends and neighbors gathered at Umeno's house, remembering Long as "a good guy," who had been an extra in the movie "Pearl Harbor." Jarvis said Long was a free-lance photographer and had taken pictures at the Iliahi Elementary School May Day celebration.

They believe police did not have to, but did aim to kill him.

Douglas Leeds, a close family friend who lives a block away, said, "A 50-caliber to the heart. Why not just wing him?"

"Before they shoot somebody, they should at least exhaust all their resources," Shounk said. He admits Long was wrong to have shot at the other young men, but said it wasn't a gun battle.

If they had left Long alone and taken more time to defuse the situation, it could have ended peacefully, he said.

"They had an armored tank, the whole nine yards, which was really uncalled for," said friend and neighbor Joe Mersbergh.

"I hope and pray that the cop that shot thinks twice the next time," Tavares said. "I hope (the police) learned something."

Hernandez said police handled the situation wrongly. "They brought a tank in and he was just one person."

She said the police would not let her or Long's mother talk with him. "Maybe things would have turned out differently."

John Buckheit, 54, who lives near the Longs, said that he heard yelling, screaming and a few "pops" before police asked him to vacate his house for his own safety.

According to Buckheit, police in a helicopter overhead reported that Chancey Jarvis was hiding in the back near the Jacuzzi or swimming pool.

James Jarvis said that when his brother regained consciousness, police were holding a gun to his head. With injuries to his face and finger, "he thought he was shot."

James Jarvis does not believe Long meant to fire at police officers. "He's smarter than this. He knows better. He just panicked. You get desperate, you get scared, and add to that, you're drunk. What would you do?" he said.

The Jarvis brothers had been friends with Long since childhood, when their family lived across the street.

Long's father, who taught his son to fire a rifle, had been like a second father to Chancey before he died of cancer, his brother said.

"I feel bad for his mom," Jarvis said yesterday morning, visibly distraught by Long's mother's weeping.

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