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FBI alert cites mass shooting threat at Hawaii State Capitol

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / SEPT. 13

    A slideshow presentation addressing social media posts with strong language or threats directed toward government branches, employees and officials was presented Friday at Gov. David Ige’s office.

HILO >> The FBI has issued an alert in connection with a post on social media inviting people to a “mass shooting in the Hawaii state capitol” this weekend.

The threat was posted Friday at the bottom of video of Gov. David Ige’s press conference in which the governor urged both sides in the dispute over the Thirty Meter Telescope to halt all threats and hate speech in the dispute over the months-long protests on Mauna Kea.

The FBI bulletin cites a brief Facebook post on Friday that announced: “Mass shooting in the hawaii state Capitol this weekend who’s coming?”

The FBI alert identified George Sopi, 29, as the apparent author of the threat. It adds that “Sopi has made other recent social media posts about violence towards Hawaii Governor Ige and other mass shootings.”

According to the FBI bulletin, Sopi has a criminal history that includes assault, assault against a police officer, and marijuana offenses. The bulletin also said Sopi appears to have access to a firearm.

State Attorney General Clare Connors said in a written response to questions that Sopi has not been arrested by Hawaii Department of Public Safety or state attorney generals investigators.

“State law enforcement is aware of the post from yesterday,” Connors wrote. She added that FBI bulletin “confirms that law enforcement is sharing intel among local and federal partners, and taking appropriate action to investigate and respond.”

Connors did not say whether Sopi has any known connection to the activists on Mauna Kea.

The protest leaders on Mauna Kea brief their fellow activists daily on the importance of sticking to non-violent tactics in their effort to block construction of the $1.4 billion telescope.

However, Ige on Friday cited a number of examples of social media threats and harsh language in connection with the telescope dispute, and urged both TMT supporters and opponents to take more care in what they say and post.

““It’s about how we speak to one another … while we work toward this path to a resolution,” Ige said.

The access road has been closed since July 15, and 38 people were arrested July 17 as they blocked the roadway to prevent construction equipment from reaching the summit to begin site work for the TMT project. Mauna Kea is considered sacred by some Hawaiians, and the protesters believe the construction of the telescope would be a desecration.

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