Shooting suspect taken into custody

A Maui Police Department armored tactical vehicle arrives at the scene of a murder investigation Wednesday afternoon at Kahikinui. Residents were waiting to return to their homes after police closed off the area while searching for alleged shooting suspect Justin Namauu, 42, of Kula. Family members learned earlier that police had taken Namauu into custody. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

The family of a Kanaio man shot dead Monday morning is pleading for the alleged shooter to reveal to police where he hid the body.

About 40 friends and family members of the victim watched police and helicopters search the Kahikinui shoreline and beach area Wednesday from a parking lot overlooking the Auwahi Wind turbines.

Friends and family identified the victim as Dennis Pacheco, 45.

Pacheco’s sister, Francine, said police arrested the alleged shooter Justin Namauu, 42, on Wednesday afternoon around his house in Kahikinui. She said he was airlifted from the area to the Wailuku Police Station for questioning.

Maui police spokesman Lt. Gregg Okamoto said Namauu was located in Kahikinui at 4:47 p.m. and was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder in connection with a shooting on Monday.

Dennis Pacheco’s sister, Bev Pacheco (from left), niece Tianna Acain and daughter-in-law Sanoe Fernandez, stand along the road in Kahikinui waiting to see if police will transport Pacheco’s alleged killer past the lookout spot where they and their family members held vigil Wednesday afternoon.

Namauu was not charged, he said. The investigation was ongoing.

Francine Pacheco said the family couldn’t rest without knowing what happened to her brother.

“We cannot sleep until we find him,” she said. “Hopefully, he (Namauu) has a heart and lets authorities know where he placed my brother so we can bring him home and all be at peace.”

The shooting occurred Monday morning when Pacheco was with a woman at her house in Kanaio, Francine Pacheco said. The woman was dating her brother, but she also went out with Namauu, she said.

“She was trying to break it off, but he (Namauu) would always come around,” she said. “That day, it just so happens he came to the house, and they were both there.”

Francine Pacheco, sister of victim Dennis Pacheco, raises her arms after learning her brother’s alleged killer had been captured Wednesday afternoon. The victim’s family was waiting for permission from police to begin their own search for Pacheco’s body.

The woman reported that Namauu confronted Pacheco and fired at him once with a pistol. The woman told Francine Pacheco that her brother tried to fight him, but Namauu fired a second shot to the head, killing him instantly.

The woman told Pacheco’s sister that she and Namauu put Pacheco in his own car and drove it to Namauu’s house. She reported that Namauu tied her up and left her at the home while he used an all-terrain vehicle to hide the body at around 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Namauu returned about two hours later and released the woman, Francine said.

Francine Pacheco said the woman was initially arrested by police, but she didn’t not know if she was still being held. She said she first learned of her brother’s death Wednesday morning.

“He was loved by everyone,” she said. “He was a good-hearted guy and a damn good mechanic. He was a jack of all trades and he could put anything together.”

The victim’s mother, Lei Pacheco, is turned back by police officers at the bottom of the road leading to a Kahikinui crime scene Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a small town,” she said. “We all know each other, and that’s what makes this so hard. We’re all supposed to be one family.”

Dozens of police officers, investigators and Special Response Team personnel began searching for Pacheco’s body Tuesday morning, said Lt. Derrick Lopez, head of the Crimes Against Persons Unit of the Criminal Investigation Division. He said police continued seeking tips and any information that may be helpful in the case.

Paige DePonte, a good friend of Pacheco and his family, said the “whole community is just devastated” by the shooting. Pacheco, who was born and raised in Kanaio, was unbelievably kind and would always show up if anyone needed help, she said.

“Dennis was a really good guy,” DePonte said. “This is a huge tragedy; a huge loss. We’re just very sad.”

DePonte said the community used to call him the “flat tire fairy” because he would assist many people stranded in the rural area. She added that he was very quiet and regularly stayed home to help his mother.

“He was a really good son and a good father,” she said of Pacheco, who had three grown children and two younger sons. “He was a like a brother to me. If I ever needed anything, Dennis was there.”

Francine Pacheco said she does not know Namauu, but she hopes he will help lead police to where her brother is buried.

“The sooner the better,” she said. “This is the second day. We don’t want him to be out there one more day.”

Staff Writer Matthew Thayer contributed to this report.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.

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