Sean Middleton was sitting in his car at a stoplight on Kalakaua Avenue on April 5 when he heard gunfire. Honolulu police officers were shooting at a stolen white Honda Accord filled with six suspects aged 14 to 22.
It was only later that Middleton learned that his 16-year-old friend, Iremamber Sykap, had been killed in the police shooting.
The night before, they had hung out at Old Stadium Park off King Street. Middleton had known Sykap since he was 4 years old and they were neighbors in Kalihi. “I just wish I could’ve saved him,” said Middleton. “I just wish it was me, that they had killed me instead.”
In the absence of more details, Sykap’s death and subsequent media coverage ignited an outpouring of grief among many in Hawaii’s Micronesian community, with some questioning why death was the consequence for his alleged crimes.