Police arrested a Pearl City middle school student for investigation of attempted murder today after a gun he allegedly brought to campus was fired before school started Monday, narrowly missing one student and leaving another with minor injuries, police said.
The .45-caliber Glock went off after the Highlands Intermediate student carrying the handgun pointed it at another student, and the second student pushed the gun away, police Capt. Lester Hite said.
The bullet went through the jacket of the second boy — but did not touch or injure the boy — and hit a rock wall, police said. Fragments from that impact hit a third student’s right hand and thigh. Scratches to his finger and thigh were treated with bandages, Hite said.
"When he saw the boy pull out the gun, he said, ‘I’m out of here,’" Hite said of the boy with the jacket. "He did exactly what we want all kids to do. He was getting away from that area when the round went off."
Before the gun was fired, a group of students that included the boy who brought the gun were gathered at the bottom of a stairway near the campus’ outdoor basketball courts. The boy had unloaded the magazine, but a bullet remained in the gun’s chamber, Hite said.
"He was showing it to a friend," Hite said. "It’s unclear if they were playing around."
The 14-year-old who brought the gun to Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said. He was released from police custody.
Hite said the registered owner of the gun and the student who had it have different last names.
Police were not commenting on whether the registered owner is related or connected to the boy who brought the gun to school. The gun had not been reported stolen, police said. But when officers contacted the registered owner today, the gun owner went to look fr the gun and discovered it missing, police said.
Hite said the student with the gun “panicked” and discarded the gun somewhere on campus. Hite said school officials took custody of the gun before police arrived.
Police responded to the scene after they received a call at 7:08 a.m. of a gunshot injury. Just before 9 a.m., police drove a student away from campus. The student was not handcuffed.
An Emergency Medical Services supervisor said a patient was transported to a hospital with minor injuries. The supervisor said it appeared the child wanted to be checked for ringing in the ears.
Sheldon Oshio, complex area superintendent of the Leeward Oahu district, said the gun discharge was an isolated incident. “Anytime there is an incident such as today, we take it very seriously. Safety and health for all is paramount,” he said.
“The school is fully cooperating with the investigation and ensuring the safety of all the students. A letter is being sent home today with all of the students. The campus is safe and every effort is being addressed to meet the needs of the school community,” Oshio said.
Department of Education spokeswoman Sandra Goya said, “The campus is secured,” she said. Goya said the school remained open and that police and emergency personnel were on scene.
“We want to assure parents that school safety is paramount and we have taken all necessary precautions to ensure that school is safe,” Goya said.
Some worried parents took their children out of school.
Venus Acker, a medical support assistant at Tripler Medical Center whose 12-year-old daughter attends the school, said she and her child were nervous about the incident. “I couldn’t believe it. How would a 13-year-old child get a gun,” she said.
“I was scared, but now I’m OK because I’m not in school,” said Tiffany Acker, 12.
Tiffany Acker said she was in the cafeteria when her friend said she saw an ambulance. They went outside and saw a boy with a paper towel covering one hand talking to a security guard and pointing to the ground.
She contacted her parents and her mother came to pick her up.
“I’m not confident in the way they (the school) handled the situation,” said Venus Acker. “They should have contacted us. They should have closed the school down. They didn’t give us any information.”