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Man charged with damaging Mauna Kea telescope facility, threatening workers

  • COURTESY HAWAII POLICE DEPARTMENT

    James Coleman

  • NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY WEBCAMERA

    A webcamera image from the Very Long Baseline Array radio telescope shows a police car and a red truck in front of the telescope on Wednesday.

A 30-year-old Kailua-Kona man tried to enter a Mauna Kea telescope facility while employees were barricaded inside and then tried to ram the vehicle of a ranger from the Office of Mauna Kea Management, who tried to intervene, police said today.

James Coleman is charged with second-degree burglary, first-degree criminal property damage, attempted first-degree criminal property damage, two counts of second-degree criminal property damage and two counts of second-degree terroristic threatening.

Officers responded at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to a report of a traffic accident involving a disorderly man near the summit of Mauna Kea at the Very Long Baseline Array radio telescope.

His bail was set at $84,000.

Coleman is scheduled to make his initial court appearance Friday.

He allegedly drove a vehicle onto the Very Long Baseline Array station, damaging the installation’s fence, building and official vehicles, according to a news release from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The two employees in the building were not injured, the observatory said.

“Initial reports indicate that the radio-telescope antenna is undamaged,” the observatory said.

University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said there is no indication the man was part of any movement opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, but university officials will await the outcome of a police investigation.

The Very Long Baseline Array station is a continentwide radio telescope system, with 10 25-meter diameter dish antennas, of which the Mauna Kea antenna is the westernmost. One is in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the other eight are on the mainland.

The facility is about two miles below the summit.

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      • Uh scuddrunner, what you’re describing is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) which is related to Acute Mountain Sickness in that both are caused by ascending to higher than accustomed altitudes, but they’re not the same thing. Acute Mountain Sickness can, in some people, cause mental confusion.

  • “…there is no indication the man was part of any movement opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea,…” Maybe so, maybe not, but surely drove really far out his way to go into Volcanoes National Park, then all the way to the telescope area, just to ram a park ranger truck, and attempt to enter a building. With so many trucks to ram and buildings to enter conveniently outside of the park, what was his motivation to do so inside the park?

    • islandsun: Article says he’s from Kailua-Kona. You obviously have first-hand knowledge. Where on the mainland is he from and when did he arrive?

    • You might want to let your racism down (and your grammar up), just a notch – we can see an inch or so under what we choose to believe is your hemline. What, exactly, is a Hawaiian? A Tahitian interloper that arrived in these islands in the past 1,500 or so years with a set of demands and an incredibly entitlement mentality? NFW, my racially-obsessed friend: we are all Hawaiians. It’s just that some of us have a ton more aloha than do the race nuts.

    • agree..that is why it is so sad Ige allowed the mostly non-Hawaiian protesters to intimidate the state and cause such damage to actual Hawaiians.

  • This guy obviously made a mistake. We should let him off with a light sentence … and set a precedence for future offenders. The light sentence will include a TMT lens and the sun’s light focused on a private part that he used to break thru the fence.

  • Copper wire thief, he probably thought there was a cash of Copper up there he also thought he would be the only one there. What a Babooze.

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