The Hawaiian Acres subdivision home of shooting victims John and Doraline McDonald was visible yesterday from the home of neighbor Paul Cyr through a thicket of uluhe ferns and other bushes. Cyr told police he heard two series of fast shots from the house, which is about 80 feet from his house.

Big Isle shooting
suspect dead

Police find the man dead
of a gunshot wound, an
apparent suicide, in a
home south of Hilo

HILO >> Big Island shooting suspect Nat Kalae Eckman apparently committed suicide yesterday, a day after allegedly shooting a man to death, critically wounding the man's wife and abducting the couple's 3-year-old girl.

Nat Kalae Eckman: He also had abducted a 3-year-old girl

Eckman, 33, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a Hawaiian Acres subdivision home south of Hilo, a few miles from the Hawaiian Acres house where he allegedly shot the victims Sunday evening, according to police.

The girl had been dropped off, unharmed, at another house, a police source said.

The victims were identified as John C. McDonald, 62, found dead at the scene, and his wife, Doraline, 57, shot in the face and in critical condition at the Queen's Medical Center.

The motive for the shooting seemed to be the abduction of the couple's 3-year-old granddaughter, whom they had adopted as their daughter, said neighbor Paul Cyr.

Eckman is the girl's father, according to Cyr. However, police Capt. Samuel Thomas declined to comment on the girl, and neither of two written police statements mentioned her.

The location of the girl's mother was not clear.

Cyr heard the girl crying during the shootings, then heard the intruder say something like, "I've got you," he said.

Eckman was found after police received a report of a possible suicide victim, a statement said. Police confirmed that the man was Eckman but stopped short of confirming that his death was a suicide until an autopsy is conducted today.

Cyr said he has been living in his home since 1993, about the same time that the McDonalds moved in next door. John McDonald was a disabled mechanic who had lost sight in one eye in an industrial accident, Cyr said.

"You couldn't ask for a better neighbor," he said. "He always had a smile on his face, a happy-go-lucky guy."


A few years ago the McDonalds' minor teenage daughter had the baby girl, Cyr said. The daughter was unable to take care of the child, so her parents adopted the girl, he said.

Cyr had never heard the McDonalds mention any trouble with the girl's father.

Cyr said he was watching television Sunday night when he heard shots from the McDonald home, about 80 feet from his, partially visible through some bushes in forested, sparsely populated Hawaiian Acres.

Police put the time of the shooting at about 8:15 p.m.

Cyr said he heard, "pop, pop, pop, pop, pop," as many as five shots in quick succession.

"It sounded like a kid playing with a cap gun, but it was real fast," he said. He heard the girl crying. Then he heard four more shots, "pop, pop, pop, pop," he said.

He heard a man say something like, "Get out of here," or, "I've got you."

"Right after that the kid stopped crying and it was real quiet." Cyr did not hear a car or any sound of someone leaving.

A bit later he heard a soft voice, he said.

Capt. Thomas said the wounded Doraline McDonald telephoned for help.

About 100 feet up the road, another neighbor, who asked that his name not be used, also heard the shots and called police.

The neighbor said his dog started barking 20 or 30 minutes before the shooting, which was unusual because his dog rarely barks.

Unlike Cyr, he said the shooting began with just two separate shots. "Then I heard someone yelling 'Help!' screaming," he said.

"We have a lot of drugs out here. I thought it was related to that. You hear gunshots all the time," he said. "But I never heard anyone yelling 'Help!' before."

He called 911.

"Probably while I was talking to them, I heard three or four more shots," he said. "It was a small caliber. It was more of a pop than a bang."

"John (McDonald) was a nice guy. He walked the granddaughter out here in a little red wagon," the neighbor said.

"He always said he'd come back and have a beer, but he never did."

An autopsy was scheduled today for McDonald, police said.


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