Friday | January 19, 2018
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Standoff in Puna was repeat: Man who died Tuesday confronted police in 2015

An armed man who fatally shot himself to end a 12-hour standoff with police Tuesday in Puna had barricaded himself into the house on the same property and engaged in a brief standoff with officers two years ago.

Police on Friday confirmed the identity of the man who died as 51-year-old Keith Kaapana Cummings of Pahoa. An autopsy confirmed Cummings died of a single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Tuesday’s incident started at about 12:20 a.m., when officers responded to reports of gunfire at a Kamanu Street home in lower Hawaiian Beaches. Arriving officers found Cummings holed up in a car parked in the house’s driveway. Police say several shots were fired when officers arrived, although it’s uncertain if the shots were directed at the officers. Capt. Randall Medeiros of the Hilo Criminal Investigation Division said Tuesday that police vehicles were hit by the gunfire, but no officers were injured.

The police response included crisis negotiators and the Special Response Team — the Hawaii Police Department’s SWAT unit. Nearby residences were evacuated while negotiators attempted to effect a peaceful resolution to the standoff, police said.

A woman inside the home when the incident started “exited the residence on her own and the (SRT) personnel assisted her when she exited,” Medeiros said Tuesday.

The woman was physically unharmed. Medeiros said “there may have been a domestic component to” the situation, but didn’t elaborate.

Police say Tuesday’s standoff ended shortly before 1 p.m. The Tribune-Herald was at the police perimeter and heard numerous shots, which sounded like small-caliber gunfire, during the noon hour. A single, final shot sounded at 12:40 p.m.

Cummings barricaded himself into the same house more than two years ago, according to the Police Department website.

On Oct. 23, 2015, officers went to the Kamanu Street home to serve Cummings with a protective order. Court records indicate the petitioner for the temporary restraining order is a woman listed on the county’s property tax website as the home’s owner. According to a police statement, Cummings refused to leave the premises and instead allegedly poured a flammable liquid in the house and threatened to ignite it.

No one else was in the house at the time. Police evacuated nearby homes and the SRT responded to negotiate with Cummings, who surrendered without incident.

Cummings pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless endangering, a Class C felony. He was sentenced Feb. 4, 2016, to a year in jail and four years probation.

On Dec. 6, 2017, Cummings was sentenced to 15 days in jail for violating his probation and was released Dec. 19, according to records — less than a month before the fatal standoff occurred. He appeared in court Dec. 21 for allegedly failing a drug test, but denied he had used drugs. A hearing was set for Jan. 4.

When Cummings missed his court date, Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto issued a bench warrant for his arrest and set his bail at $20,000. That warrant was pending when Cummings took his own life.

Court records indicate Cummings previously was convicted in Family Court for harassment and contempt of court and a number of TRO petitions were filed against him throughout the years.

Phone calls by the Tribune-Herald to Medeiros and Lt. Miles Chong were not returned by press time.

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