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UPDATE 4: Social Media Comments ‘Spiraled Out of Control’

February 20, 2018, 11:26 PM HST
* Updated February 21, 11:27 AM
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UPDATE 4: 11:05 a.m.

Social media comments inferring the threat of gun violence at Big Island schools at the end of January “spiraled out of control, causing concern for parents,” Hawaiʻi Police Department Puna Patrol Area I Capt. Samuel Jelsma told Big Island Now this morning.

In response, additional officers were sent to the Pāhoa and Kea‘au schools indicated in the social media posts on Jan. 29.

The posts were brought to school official’s attention yesterday, Tuesday, Feb. 20, and the HPD responded “immediately and appropriately,” Capt. Jelsma said.

Capt. Jelsma said three officers were sent to Pāhoa High School, joining the schools resource officer. Four officers were sent to Kea‘au High School this morning as well, although no specific or direct threats were made.

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“There were no recent threats made for either school,” said Capt. Jelsma, “only chatter on social media.”

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Capt. Jelsma assured that any and all threats are taken seriously and will be handles appropriately.

In the case of the  threat made to a Pāhoa High School student, HPD initiated a harassment complaint case the 17-year-old girl. The girl is not a student at the school, said Capt. Jelsma. She was released and the case is being routed to Family Court.

UPDATE 3, 9:57 a.m.

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Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi Head of School M. Kāhealani Nae‘ole-Wong sent an email to parents, telling them that the school is actively monitoring the situation in Pāhoa “and possibly other schools in the region (threats of violence.”

The Kea‘au campus will remain open at this time.

“We take all threats very seriously, and have asked our security team which protects our campus 24/7 to be on high alert,” said Nae‘ole-Wong. “Should there be any changes to this I will let you know, but please know that nothing is more important than the protection of your keiki.”

UPDATE 2, 9:10 a.m.

The Hawai‘i Police Department reports that there is no active shooter situation at either Pāhoa High School or Kea‘au High School.

Big Island Now found two HPD officers at Kea‘au High School, but the officers did not share any information about their investigation.

UPDATE 1: Feb. 21, 2018, 8:46 a.m.

Big Island police are on high alert after threats were made at three schools on the island.

In response, police have temporarily increased presence at the two public high schools in the Puna District—Pāhoa and Kea‘au High School—along with Konawainea High School on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

Police have been meeting with school officials.

In response to social media posts on, Jan. 29, which were brought to school official’s attention yesterday, Tuesday, Feb. 20, police were summoned to the Pāhoa High School campus.

It was reported that during a back and forth Instagram text between two female teenagers in which insults were exchanged, a 16-year-old female made a comment referencing bringing a firearm to school.

Police generated a harassment case and located and interviewed the 16-year-old suspect on Tuesday. She was later released and the case is being routed to Family Court.

Although the posting didn’t specify a school, investigation revealed that one of the suspects was connected with Konawaena High School.

A 17-year-old male was subsequently arrested and charged with second-degree terroristic threatening. He was later released to his parents.

Later social media posts began discussing that a shooting would take place at a Keaʻau school as well.

It is a felony to threaten to shoot a gun at school and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

In the back of everyone’s mind is the spate of deadly shootings at schools, including one last week at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

Konawaena High School. File photo.

The shooting has prompted several “copycat threats” at other schools across the country, putting authorities on extra high alert.

ORIGINAL POST: Feb. 20, 2018, 11:36 p.m.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, at about 11:30 a.m., police received a report of a social media posting from a male party that referenced to “shooting up local schools.”

Investigation into this posting reveals it was posted by a 17-year-old-male juvenile.

At about 7 p.m., the suspect was taken into custody and charged with Terroristic Threatening in the Second Degree.

The juvenile was subsequently released to his parent due to not qualifying for further detention.

Although the posting did not contain a specific school, the juvenile was found to be connected with Konawaena High School.

As a result police will have a greater presence at Konawaena School tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

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