HONOLULU — A Hawaii handyman who is presumed dead inside a home that burned after he stabbed his landlord and fatally ambushed two police officers had a history of run-ins with police, authorities said, and his lawyer said the man thought the government was spying on him.
Jarovlav “Jerry” Hanel faced eviction because the landlord wanted to move into the home where he had stayed for free in return for maintenance work, said the lawyer, Jonathan Burge.
Authorities said Sunday that Hanel stabbed Lois Cain, the landlord who had filed court documents last week to evict him. After the stabbing, two Honolulu police officers were fatally shot and the home and neighboring structures later burst into flames.
Hanel is presumed dead inside the destroyed home, along with two other women who have not been identified, police said.
“Maybe that’s what set him off if she went there and served him,” with the eviction, Burge said.
Burge said he never expected Hanel to act out violently. “This is just kind of blowing my mind,” he said. “I have never known him to violent, he did have some mental health issues. He thought the government was watching him all the time and tapping his phone, stuff like that.”
Several years ago, a neighbor accused Hanel of shoving him. Hanel was acquitted of assault after a trial, Burge said. “But other than that, I had no idea about any violent stuff at all,” Burge said. “He’s kind of a quirky guy and had problems with the neighbors.”
Police responding Sunday morning to a call for help at the location found Cain stabbed in the leg. Then Hanel opened fire, killing Officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said.
It could take days for authorities to recover remains and process evidence inside the home in the famed Waikiki Beach neighborhood, Ballard said.
The fire just a few blocks from oceanfront high-rise buildings spread quickly, destroying seven homes and leaving others with fire or smoke damage.
A neighbor told The Associated Press she saw Cain being put into an ambulance suffering from knife wounds. Her condition was not disclosed.
Ian Felix, a Honolulu resident and combat veteran with medical training, told the AP he was walking by the home when he saw a woman lying on the ground with blood coming from her leg.
Felix put a tourniquet on the woman’s leg until the first police officer arrived. Two more officers arrived moments later. Felix said he then heard two gunshots and that he and the officer carried the injured woman into a neighbor’s garage across the street.
Ballard said Hanel did not have any gun permits.
Burge has represented Hanel since 2015 in various disputes with neighbors, including temporary restraining orders that three obtained against him. Hanel, a native of the Czech Republic who used Czech interpreters in court, faced a hearing next week on a charge of misusing 911 services, Burge said.
Cain was supportive of him in his disputes with neighbors, Burge said. But she wanted him to move out so she could move into the home and their relationship also soured because Hanel’s dog had died and Cain wouldn’t let him get a new one.
Burge said Hanel planned to go trial for the misusing 911 charge. “He thought he saw someone selling drugs nearby called the police they determined it wasn’t happening,” Burge said. “He didn’t like their determination. He kept calling them until they told him stop.” Police cited Hanel.
Neighbors accused him of “taking too much pictures of them little harassing things, making noise and smoke,” Burge said.
Neighbor Dolores Sandvold said she heard screaming and gunshots and saw Cain being carried to an ambulance.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement that the “entire state mourns the loss of two Honolulu Police officers.”
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. PHOTO: AP