By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Two women were shot dead in a Waiakea Houselots home late Monday night and police have a suspect in custody.
Police are withholding the victims’ identity pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin, but neighbors have told the Tribune-Herald that the victims are Elaine Ahu and Rhonda Ahu.
At about 11:20 p.m., officers responded to several calls reporting gunshots in the 600 block of Leilani Street in Hilo. When they arrived at the scene, officers searched the interior of the house at 612 Leilani St. and found two victims with gunshot wounds, police said.
Sean Ivan Masa Matsumoto, 34, of Hilo, was taken into custody at the scene on suspicion of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder, police said. He had not been charged as of press time Tuesday as police continued to investigate.
Police Capt. Mitch Kanehailua of the Criminal Investigation Division said a murder weapon was found at the scene, but didn’t specify what that weapon was, other than a firearm. Kanehailua said there were no reports of a disturbance at the home prior to the fatal gunshots.
Asked about a possible motive, he replied: “We’re still investigating that. We’re not sure.”
Kanehailua wouldn’t speculate on a possible time frame for filing charges.
“It depends on how long we’re up at the place and what we find there,” he said. Police have 48 hours after arresting a suspect to file charges, or else by law they must release the arrested individual pending further investigation.
Two children who were in the home at the time of the shooting were uninjured and are with family members, police said.
One neighbor, who requested anonymity, said he heard two gunshots at about 11 p.m.
“There was a distinct loud bang, which I think most of the neighbors interpreted as a coconut falling or an avocado falling on a tin roof,” he said. “I think two shots. There was a distinct noise in the house when the gun discharged. No lights came on. I think neighbors were awakened by the disturbance and immediately called police.
”.. I think because of the Chinese New Year, some of the neighbors thought it was fireworks or something else.”
He said that police responded very quickly and arrived at the scene “within 10 minutes.”
The neighbor said the there were occasional domestic disturbances at the house, “but nothing out of the ordinary for Hawaii.”
“You’d hear, like, arguments and yelling at each other sometimes,” he said.
Another neighbor, a woman who also wished to remain anonymous, said she was watching a movie with her sister-in-law when the shooting occurred.
“I’m not sure what time it was, but it was late, and I heard something that sounded like three gunshots,” she said. “Then I thought, nah, it couldn’t be. Then I saw neighbors standing in the middle of the road so I knew there was something going on, but I didn’t know what. Then this morning, when I woke up, I saw police blocking both ends of the road.”
A check of court records found that Matsumoto has two criminal convictions in Hawaii, both in 2007, for misdemeanor domestic abuse and for harassment, a petty misdemeanor, but none for felonies.
Police closed off Leilani Street between Hinano and Manono streets and were not allowing either vehicular or foot traffic on the same block the shooting occurred on Tuesday morning.
Anyone with information is asked to to contact Detective Ernest Matsumoto at 961-2379 or email@example.com or Detective Joel Field at 961-2381 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who prefer anonymity may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.