Sailor who killed 2 at Pearl Harbor shipyard had been having disciplinary problems

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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Navy sailor who fatally shot two at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard Wednesday and wounded a third had been forced to enroll in anger management courses recently and was having problems at work, military sources confirm to HNN.

First responders arrived at the scene of an active shooter situation at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on Wednesday. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

The sailor was identified as 22-year-old Gabriel Romero.

Sources told Hawaii News Now that he used his service weapons ― a rifle and a pistol ― in the shooting, and on Wednesday had been assigned to stand watch at a submarine undergoing repairs.

The sources, who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, also expressed concern that Romero had been assigned an armed position at the shipyard despite his history of problems.

Romero fatally shot two men at the shipyard and injured a third before turning the gun on himself. The third gunshot victim, a 36-year-old man, is in stable condition at the Queen’s Medical Center.

The identifies of the victims have not yet been released.

The shooting at Drydock 2 threw a tight-knit community into mourning, and brought operations at the shipyard to a virtual standstill. Non-essential employees are being told to return to work Friday.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone involved,” said Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii. “This is certainly a tragedy for everyone here.”

He said it wasn’t immediately clear whether Romero knew the victims ― all shipyard employees ― or if the three were targeted at random. He also didn’t have details about the gunman’s possible motive.

In a message sent to shipyard employees, Shipyard Commander Capt. Greg Burton expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.

“I know that no words will convey the full measure of sorrow from today’s tragedy," he said.

Family members and shipyard employees impacted by the tragedy are being offered counseling and crisis services.

“Looking ahead, we will honor the life and legacy of those lost," Burton said.

“Even now, as we mourn the loss of members of our ‘ohana, please take the opportunity to reconnect with each other and to reinforce and strengthen the bonds with each other.”

The shooting comes just days before thousands descend on Pearl Harbor to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese bombing that propelled the United States into World War II.

White House offers assistance

First responders were called to the base about 2:30 p.m.

In the minutes after the shooting, base personnel were urged over a PA system and with text messages to shelter in place.

A lockdown that was put in place after the shooting was lifted about 4 p.m.

Chadwick confirmed that officials have launched a full investigation and at least 100 witnesses were being interviewed.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service — or NCIS — has taken the lead. However, Honolulu police detectives and the city Medical Examiner’s Office also responded.

On Thursday morning, the White House said President Donald Trump was keeping a close eye on the situation. However, he has not yet publicly commented.

Gov. David Ige said the White House has offered assistance in the wake of the shooting.

“I join in solidarity with the people of Hawaii as we express our heartbreak over this tragedy and concern for those affected by the shooting,” Ige said in a statement.

‘I looked out ... to see the shooter’

The shooting broke the calm of what was otherwise an uneventful day at the shipyard.

One witness said he was at his desk when he heard loud pops.

“I kind of recognize that as gunshots,” he said. “I looked out the window, saw three people on the ground. I looked out in time to see the shooter ... shoot himself.”

Alex Ojeda and Will Churchhill reported to their first day at work on base Wednesday when the active shooter situation started.

“We were actually on our way out,” Ojeda said. “We didn’t expect that at all.”

One member of the military said he was getting a haircut when his cell phone blew up with text messages.

“We got a bunch of texts from on the ship and on the barge letting us know there’s an active shooter alert,” the service member said.

The shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam triggered panic for those who live or work in the area.

Traffic near the base and on Nimitz Highway was heavy, and officials urged those headed to the airport to allow for extra travel time.

The USS Columbia submarine, which Romero was assigned to, is undergoing repairs at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard ― its homeport. The 360-foot-long, 6,000-ton submarine was commissioned in 1995.

It has a crew of about 150, which often conducts operations across the Pacific.

The Navy says it’s one of the most modern subs in the world, capable of long-range Tomahawk strike operations, anti-submarine operations, as well as surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Read the original version of this article at hawaiinewsnow.com.



 
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