Hawai‘i police investigate active shooter hoax call at Kea‘au High School
Kea‘au High School principal Dean Cevallos had no idea there was a report on Wednesday morning about an active shooter at his campus until Hawaiʻi police arrived.
Central Dispatch received a call at 10:01 a.m. in which the caller claimed there was a Caucasian male on campus with a firearm who had shot multiple students in a classroom and was now roaming the campus. Within minutes of dispatch receiving the call, multiple resources responded to the scene that included specialized service divisions and the Hawaiʻi Fire Department.
Kea‘au High School was placed on lockdown at 10:45 a.m. Other schools in the immediate vicinity also were placed on lockdown as a precaution due to the potential seriousness of the call.
After officers checked every corner of the campus to ensure there was no threat — clearing 10 buildings and 78 classrooms — it was determined the call was a hoax. The lockdown was lifted at 11:30 a.m.
“This police force we have, they take it serious and they were so professional,” Cevallos said. “I have no doubt if we had a real thing they’d be here and handling the situation professionally.”
Cevallos didn’t know where the call came from. However, he did hear rumors that it may have been a challenge posted on TikTok. Various social media challenges have circulated involving kids. One reported last year includes a dare to kick a teacher.
Earlier this year, police responded Kea‘au High School after a student told classmates he planned to bring a gun to school and posted a TikTok of himself at home with a BB gun.
“We try to monitor as much as we can see what pranks are coming out,” Cevallos said, adding a lot of the students will show the videos to teachers. Parents also report things they see on social media.
An educator for 28 years, Cevallos said these times of threats have always happened throughout his career.
“It gets more public because they can send it out through social media,” the principal said. “Parents were already trying to come on campus because they heard it on the police scanner. When they do that they put themselves in danger and the kids in the line of fire.”
Police presence remained near the campus for the remainder of the day out of an abundance of caution.
Kea‘au High faculty and staff practice active shooter drills, but Cevallos said the school doesn’t run them with the 1,030 students because it’s “very intense, the psyche with kids.”
“I wish it never happened,” Cevallos said. But, he added it was valuable for current students to get it in their heads what they should do in case there ever is a real active shooter.
The incident has been classified as a first-degree terroristic threatening case and is currently being investigated by the Area I Juvenile Aid Section.
Police ask anyone who may have any information relative to this investigation to contact the police department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311 or Detective Kevin Brodie at 808-961-8883.