Investigators say Pearl Harbor Shipyard Shooting Isolated, not Motivated by Terrorism

December 6, 2019, 11:13 AM HST (Updated December 6, 2019, 11:13 AM)
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PEARL HARBOR  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica O. Blackwell)

Special Agent in Charge for the NCIS Hawai‘i Field Office Norm Dominesey on Friday said that there is no sustained threat to the public at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard following a deadly shooting there earlier this week.

But neither he, nor the rest of the investigators who spoke Friday, said much else, leaving several unanswered questions two days after the fatal incident that claimed two lives and left a third person hospitalized.

“There is no known motive at this time,” Dominesey told reporters, adding no evidence has been collected suggesting further threat to the shipyard and no evidence indicates the killing spree was an act of domestic terrorism.

Sam Miranda, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI in Hawai‘i, echoed Dominesey, saying it did not appear the act was motivated by any particular ideology and referring to the incident as “isolated.”

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Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick said the Navy has offered counseling services to all those impacted by the shooting and that its focus “remains on providing that needed support.”

He then fielded two questions, one regarding whether additional security protocol has been initiated to ensure public safety, to which he responded by referencing the “vigilance” of security measures already in place.

Dominesey said that thousands of people were in the industrial area of the shipyard at the time of the shooting, roughly 2:15 p.m. The gunman murdered two people and injured a third before killing himself by way of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The ordeal, start to finish, transpired over only 23 seconds.

Following Chadwick’s final remarks, all officials exited the room, including United States Attorney for the District of Hawai‘i Kenji Price and Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard.

Their departure was met by disapproval from media members who questioned Navy public affairs officials as to why investigative brass wouldn’t answer any more questions — specifically as to why 22-year-old shooter and active-duty sailor Gabriel Romero, who had a history of disciplinary problems, was allowed to carry weapons and if there may be other service members suffering from similar problems.

Romero was acting as an armed guard while the USS Columbia, the submarine on which he served, was docked at the shipyard for maintenance. Romero took the lives of Vincent Kapoi, Jr., 30, and Roldan Agustin, 49, both civilian employees with the Department of Defense, and injured a third man using his M4 service rifle. Romero then used his M9 service pistol to commit suicide.

According to a report by Hawai‘i News Now, Romero had been suffering from discipline problems and was taking anger management classes.

A report by the Associated Press cited a US military official who said Romero had taken issue with commanders and was involved in counseling sessions.

Max Dible
Max Dible is a reporter for Big Island Now. He will also serve in a news capacity for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter and radio talk show personality with the Iowa State Daily and KURE 88.5 FM, respectively, in Ames, Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing and his work as a sports columnist.
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