Suspect Charged in Painted Church Road Shooting

The Hawai`i Police Department has charged a 49-year-old Hōnaunau man in connection with the shooting incident on Painted Church Road in South Kona on Saturday afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, after conferring with county prosecutor’s, Brian Lee Smith was charged with one count of attempted-Murder in the First Degree, one count of Murder in the Second Degree, one count of attempted-Murder in the Second Degree, two counts of Ownership or Possession (firearm) Prohibited, and two counts of Carrying or use of Firearm in the Commission of a Separate Felony.

Smith remains hospitalized in Honolulu and upon release will be returned to Hawai’i Island for his initial court appearance. He is currently in police custody with bail is set at $1,150,000.

Smith was initially arrested at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday evening with the assistance of the Honolulu Police Department Criminal Investigation Division.

Responding to a call of a shooting incident on Painted Church Road in South Kona just before 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, officers confirmed one person dead at the scene. He was later positively identified as Thomas Ballesteros Jr., 42-years-old, with no permanent address.

It was also determined that two other males were injured, including the possible suspect (later identified as Smith), both had left the scene before officer’s arrival. Both males were later located and treated for non-life threatening gunshot injuries.

The other victim remains hospitalized.

An autopsy will be conducted on Wednesday, (June 27), to determine the exact cause of death of Ballesteros.

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section are continuing the investigation. The possible motive that lead to the confrontation is being investigated at this time; however, police believe that Smith and Ballesteros were acquaintances.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Carrie Akina at (808) 326-4646 or