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Police: Officer shoots boy, 17, at Roosevelt High after knife attack

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 6:42 p.m. HST, Jan 28, 2014

A 17-year-old boy was shot by a police officer this morning after he allegedly attacked three officers with a kitchen knife as they were attempting to take him into custody as a runaway, police said.


The suspect, who was shot in the arm, was taken by paramedics in good condition to the hospital. He was arrested on three counts of attempted murder, police said. A 17-year-old boy was shot by a police officer this morning after he allegedly attacked three officers with a kitchen knife as they were attempting to take him into custody as a runaway, police said. 

Maj. Richard Robinson, head of Honolulu Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division, said police went to Roosevelt High at around 8:30 a.m. to pick up a non-active student who was a reported runaway. When three police officers arrived at the counselor's office near the Punchbowl campus, the suspect brandished a kitchen knife. At that point, a counselor and an aide fled the room.

During a scuffle with the three officers, one officer fired two gunshots, with one of the bullets hitting the teenager's arm, Robinson said.  

The officers were punched and sustained minor lacerations, Robinson said. They did not need medical attention and remained at the scene. 

Police said that one of the officers has been with the force for 12 years and the other two were 10-year veterans, including the one who fired the shots. As is standard procedure, that officer will be placed on administrative duty while the shooting is investigated. 

HPD Deputy Chief Dave Kajihiro said there was no danger to any other students since the shooting took place inside an office and no other individuals were present.

However, he could not provide details as to where the second bullet ended up, and what was on the other side of the walls and door of the office at the time of the shooting.

In fact, DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said the shooting took place in a counselor’s office at the main administration building. It’s the same building where another student said she was inside a counselor’s office when she heard three shots fired.

In response to questions of why a gun was used to shoot a juvenile inside a school rather than a Taser, police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said in a written e-mail response:

“Officers are trained to make split-second decisions in life-threatening situations and to take appropriate action.”

She said many of the details of the shooting are under investigation and declined to provide an answer as to whether there are certain rules of police conduct when dealing with a juvenile in a school setting as opposed to an adult in a different setting.

Police said in a written statement that “upon seeing the officers enter the school office, the 17-year-old male quickly became combative.”

“The suspect took out a large knife, a struggle ensued, and the suspect punched and slashed at the officers,” the statement said. “One of the officers fired two shots, striking the suspect once.”

Police said the suspect was taken in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries to the hospital.

Kajihiro said: “From looking at it, it looks as if they did everything right.”

He said the teen allegedly stabbed an officer in his protective vest, cutting his uniform.

Police were acting on a court order to pick him up, Kajihiro said.

The Punchbowl-area campus was put on lockdown immediately after the incident.

Dela Cruz said an email alert and automated calls went out within minutes to warn parents of what was happening at the school. She said a lockdown means that no one can come in or leave the school.

The calls go to the phone number listed as the emergency contact for the parents. The same alert was issued to neighboring schools to warn them of the situation at Roosevelt.

At 9:11 a.m., school officials sent out a text message to parents that said: "The situation at Roosevelt is under control. The Honolulu Police Department is wrapping up their investigation. Again, the situation is under control. Please remain calm."

The DOE tweeted that students were being released for the day at 10 a.m.

Student Kodie Akamine said she was in the counselor's office in the main administration building when she heard at least three gunshots. 

Irma Leal said she got a call from her daughter Mercedes, a senior, on her cell phone, and "she was OK." Mercedes Leal told her mother that at that point the students were being locked down in their classrooms. Irma Leal said she received an automated message from the school about the same time.

Karen Hamilton said her grandson called his mother with the same message.

More than a dozen marked blue-and-white police cars lined Nehoa Street in front of Roosevelt High School, which has about 1,400 students and 150 faculty and staff.

The school's parking lot was cordoned off with cones and yellow tape, and yellow tape also extended around the auditorium area. 

Faith Kalamau King, parent of a freshman, said she left her job as soon as she heard the news on Facebook to head to the school and check on her son Kahaku.

"I want to make sure he was OK," she said. "To me he's not OK until I see him in my arms. My heart is beating so fast. There have been so many shootings of this kind on the mainland."

Students streamed out of the school after they were released building by building. Nehoa Street was jammed with cars as anxious parents came to get their children.

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