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Police increase patrols after man shot on highway

Man wasn’t targeted and there is no evidence of drive-by shooting, MPD says

Capt. John Foster, commander of the police Criminal Investigation Division, asks for help from the public in providing information about a shooting that critically injured a driver Wednesday night on Maui Veterans Highway. Police Chief John Pelletier (center) and Detective Nick Angell also appear at the news conference at the Wailuku Police Station. The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

WAILUKU — Police are increasing all-terrain vehicle patrols in the area where a driver was shot Wednesday night on Maui Veterans Highway after receiving information about continuing trespassing, poaching and night hunting there.

At a news conference Friday at the Wailuku Police Station, Police Chief John Pelletier said police don’t believe the injured driver, a 66-year-old part-time Kihei resident, was targeted and there was no evidence of a drive-by shooting.

The man was located in a vehicle on the shoulder of the highway about a quarter-mile from the intersection with North Kihei Road after Kihei patrol officers were called to the area between Mile Markers 5 and 6 at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday to investigate a report that a driver had suffered a gunshot wound, said Detective Nick Angell.

He said officers found a bullet hole in the driver’s side window of the vehicle. The man was found in the driver’s seat with a gunshot wound to the side of his head, police said.

Also in the vehicle were his wife and three teenage passengers in the back seat, Angell said.

He said the man was transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he remained in critical yet stable condition Friday.

“His status has not changed,” said Angell, who spoke to the man Thursday.

Based on information police received about “some ongoing trespassing, poaching in the area, night hunting,” Angell said there would be an increase in all-terrain vehicle patrols as well as vehicle patrols in the area.

“The investigation is very much active and very much ongoing,” he said.

After being closed following the shooting, Maui Veterans Highway was reopened at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

In a news release Thursday, police said, “At this time, investigators do not believe there to be a threat to public safety, as it appears to be an isolated event.”

Asked at the news conference to explain, Pelletier said “the reason why we felt that it was safe to open the highway was we didn’t have any other evidence at that time or at this time to say that there’s an individual on large or that that risk is still posing a threat to the community.”

He said police hadn’t apprehended the person who did the shooting.

Capt. John Foster, commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, asked for anyone who has information on activity in the area at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to call the police nonemergency line at (808) 244-6400.

Anonymous calls can be made to Maui Crime Stoppers at (808) 242-6966. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of people responsible for felony crimes.

Pelletier noted that axis deer have been migrating to lower elevations in the drought. He said police had received calls and information that there had been hunting and poaching in the area of the shooting.

While the case was classified as an attempted murder investigation, Pelletier said “it’s an investigation at this point, so we’re still determining facts.”

“We are going to be relentless as to find out why it occurred — if it was, in fact, criminal and negligent or intentional or was it accidental,” he said.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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