Maui News

Media Seeks Answers on Policies and Disciplinary Records in Naval Shipyard Tragedy 

December 6, 2019, 12:00 PM HST
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A press conference was met with frustration from media who are seeking answers following a shooting incident at the Pearl Harbor Naval shipyard on Wednesday.

While authorities provided information on the incident itself, and issued a press release on the identity of those killed, lack of information on policies and practices as well as disciplinary records involving the gunman, resulted in a backlash from media.

Comments from the press, which could be heard on a live stream, included:

  • “That was not a press conference. That was a photo opportunity.”
  • “It’s been two days. We asked all day yesterday for something.  They’re all here now.”
  • “The families deserve some answers.”

In a press release issued by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Public Affairs Office in conjunction with the press conference, authorities said the shooter, was Machinist’s Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of Texas who was a Navy Sailor assigned to USS Columbia.

The release indicated that Romero died from self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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The release also identified the Department of Defense civilians killed in the incident as:

  • Vincent J. Kapoi of Hawaiʻi, Metals Inspector Apprentice, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard; and
  • Roldan A. Agustin of Hawaiʻi, Shop Planner (Nondestructive Testing), Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
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The USS Columbia submarine is homeported in Pearl Harbor and remains in dry-dock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for routined maintenance.

Norman Dominesey, the Special Agent in Charge at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, HawaiʻiField Office extended his thoughts and prayers and “deepest condolences” to the victims and their families, “and all who are suffering as a result of this senseless act of violence.”

According to NCIS, on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at approximately 2:15 p.m., authorities were notified of report of active shooter at Dry Dock 2 of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. “The subject responsible for the violence, a Navy Sailor, was discovered deceased upon arrival from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” said Dominesey.

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According to NCIS, the gunman was assigned as a duty watchstander and was armed for security duties.

Three victims, all civilian shipyard employees working at the dry dock, were immediately identified and transported to area hospitals.  Two of the victims, named above succumbed to their injuries and a third remains in stable condition at an area hospital.

A security sweep of the area conducted and no additional subjects were identified.

“At the time of the event, several thousand shipyard employees were in the controlled industrial area where the incident occurred. NCIS with the assistance of our local law enforcement partners immediately screened all employees for potential witness information,” said Dominesey. “Witnesses reportedly observed the shots fired at the victims and ultimately observed the victim turn the weapon upon himself.  In all, this happened in approximately 23 seconds.”

Authorities say the crime scene examination remains ongoing. “Multiple items of evidentiary value have been collected from the scene, the subjects vehicle and the subject’s barracks room. Forensic examination of the various electronic media belonging to the subject has started an effort to determine a motive if possible. The investigation remains ongoing at this time.  There is no known motive at this time. There is no information to suggest there are other threats to this installation and there is no information that this incident has any ties to domestic terrorism,” said Dominesey.

Pearl Harbor. File photo by Wendy Osher.

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