The psychology of a gunman

Christopher Deedy had several "bullets" locked and loaded in his mind and trained on an imaginary, Hawaiian threat before he ever even set foot in Hawaii.

My name is Nonohe Botleho. I am the Contact Person for Parents of Murdered Children-Hawaii. I became the Hawaii Contact Person when my own son, Joel Botelho, was murdered in front of my home on Jan 2, 2011, the same year as Kollin. I did not know Kollin personally, but his brother Ikaika Bhrun went to school with my son Joel. They remained friends until Joel’s passing. I attended all of the first trial and parts of the second trial. Included are my observations.

The trouble with Deedy started way before he reached our beautiful island shores. When it started, we may never know, but what we do know is that Special Agent Christopher Deedy, along with friend and co-worker Ben Finkelstein, subscribed to what Finkelstein described as the “psychology of a gunman.” This “psychology of a gunman” was one of several “bullets” that were locked and loaded in Deedy’s mind on November 5, 2011, the night Kollin Eldert’s was shot and killed at a McDonald’s Restaurant in the heart of Waikiki.

As I attended the June 2013 trial I listened to witness and expert testimony, day after day. One witness stood out, which was U. S. Special Agent, Ben Finkelstein. During his testimony Finkelstein explained that, “Special Agents have the right to make personal decisions to carry their weapons off-duty to be prepared to deal with threats.” He also testified that he warned Deedy not to be “lulled into a false sense of security” in Hawaii, because there are some people who dislike the federal government and dislike mainlanders,” Finkelstein recalled telling Deedy. That “locals” sometimes refer to Caucasians as “F—-ing Haoles,” which he then likened the term to “the ‘N’ word.” When questioned about Deedy’s response, Finkelstein stated that Deedy commented, “Don’t worry I plan on carrying my (personal) gun the whole time I’m here.”

This was the “psychology;” the “bullet” that was lodged deep in the psyche of Christopher Deedy before he was assigned to APEC in 2011. Was this bullet loaded during his years of military training and combat? Did his experience in combat bolster this attitude and give way to hypervigilance to a perceived threat? Or perhaps it was his extensive training and position as a Special Agent, which gave him the right to carry a personal firearm in case of a perceived threat? Whatever, Deedy made a conscious, yet reckless decision to carry his personal firearm during a night of drinking and “craziness” with his friends. Clad with t-shirt, shorts, slippers and a loaded gun, Deedy went into the night with the mindset of a trigger happy gunman.

Another “bullet,” fueled with racist ideologies regarding the “locals,” rang out in night. Deedy testified that he heard the term Haole used when Kollin addressed a Caucasian male at the restaurant. Was it really the use of the Hawaiian word Haole that bothered Deedy? Or was he referring to the earlier inference made by Finkelstein, suggesting that “locals” sometimes refer to Caucasians as “F—-ing Haoles?” No matter, Deedy knew he had his gun tucked (not secured) in his waistband, ready to fire. He knew, and intended to have, the upper hand against any threat—real or imagined.

Present at the re-trial, I again had the opportunity to view the surveillance video, frame by frame. This time I was dumbfounded by how many times Deedy actually reached for his gun. Not once, not twice, but more than five times in just a few minutes. According to expert testimony by Honolulu Police Detective Khun, this type of behavior was a “pre-indicator” that Deedy intended to use and fire his gun. Was this the behavior of a highly trained agent? Did he take all reasonable steps to deescalate the situation, as outlined by Detective Khun, including leaving the scene safely, using a calm touch, calling out for back-up, using “command presence” to identify oneself as law enforcement or clearing the scene to secure the safety of others? No. Deedy knew he had “back-up” in the form of a loaded gun and a badge.

One more shot rang out in the early morning hours of November 5, 2011, killing Kollin Eldert’s. His body lay lifeless on the cold floor. No sounds, no more laughter. Kollin was the excuse Deedy was waiting for. Deedy aimed and fired, center mass into Kollin’s chest, exactly as he was trained to do.

Three years and two “trials” later, the ringing will not stop. The chants, “Justice for Kollin Elderts” grow louder. The internal groans are deep with sadness. Trust in the court system has failed. Genuine security for us and our children no longer exists. How long must we, family, friends and community, wait for the ringing to stop?

Nonohe Botelho,
Contact Person for Parents of Murdered Children-Hawaii
In Loving Memory of My Beloved Son, Joel Kealiinoa Botelho, Jan 1, 1984- Jan 2, 2011