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Suspect Charged in Honoka’a Attempted Murder

by Thunda

Hawai’i Island police detectives have charged 29-year-old Keola Jedidiah Whitehead-Shibata, with attempted murder following a shooting incident in Honoka’a on Tuesday evening, May 16, 2023, that left a 39-year-old man in critical condition.

On Thursday morning, May 18, 2023, upon conferring with the County Prosecutors Office, Area I Criminal Investigation Section detectives charged Whitehead-Shibata with the following offenses:

  • second-degree attempted murder
  • ownership/possession of a firearm prohibited
  • carrying or use of a firearm in the commission of a separate felony

Whitehead-Shibata’s bail is set at $1,075,000.

The charges against Whitehead-Shibata stem from an incident reported on Tuesday evening, May 16, shortly after 6:00 p.m., when Hamakua patrol officers responded to a reported shooting on Rickard Place, off Mamane Street, in Honoka’a. Responding officers located the victim, who was conscious and being tended to by a bystander. He appeared to have injuries to his neck and top of his head. He was immediately transported via ambulance to the North Hawai’i Community Hospital in Waimea, and later flown to the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, for further treatment.   

A witness at the scene reported that he and the victim were hanging out in the area on Rickard Place, when Whitehead-Shibata showed up. A short time later, Whitehead-Shibata got upset with the victim, pulled out a handgun, and shot at him multiple times prior to fleeing the area on foot, still in possession of the gun.

Area I Criminal Investigation Section detectives responded to the scene to continue this investigation.

Police canvassed the Honoka’a town area searching for Whitehead-Shibata, who was subsequently arrested without incident the following morning, May 17, at 8:22 a.m., in a wooded campsite area off Lehua Street in Honoka’a.

The victim remains hospitalized on Oahu in stable condition.

Whitehead-Shibata remains in police custody pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Friday, May 19, 2023, in Hilo District Court.    

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who came into contact with Whitehead-Shibata following the incident, to contact the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311, or Detective Scotty Aloy at (808) 961-2381 or email him at

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