Police presence increased at 3 Big Island schools following shooting threats

KAILUA-KONA — Six officers are on the Konawaena High School campus today following a possible threat of a school shooting.

West Hawaii Area Complex Superintendent Art Souza said officials are trying to set a tone that there never was a legitimate threat.

“When something like this happens, you want to take the maximum level of security and precaution without causing mass hysteria,” he said.

Police received a report about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday of a posting on social media by a male party that made a reference to “shooting up local schools.”

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

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, a 17-year-old boy was taken into custody by Ka’u police officers. He was subsequently charged with second-degree terroristic threatening. The boy was subsequently released to his parents as he did not qualify for further detention.

Konawaena High School Principal Shawn Suzuki told West Hawaii Today today that a staff member forwarded the social media post to the school office on Tuesday and it had some reference to harm at school.

“For us, it was a red flag and we alerted police,” Suzuki said.

Konawaena High School isn’t the only Big Island school seeing increased police presence today after postings on social media.

Police said late Tuesday they were aware of a comment by a juvenile referencing bringing a gun to Pahoa High School and were summoned to the 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 Tuesday, she was later released and the case is being routed to Family Court.

Subsequently, social media messages were posted Tuesday discussing that a potential shooting was to take place at Pahoa High school today, later social media posts began discussing that a shooting would take place at a Keaau school as well.

In response to the concern, police have temporarily increased presence at the three public high schools, and have been meeting with school officials.

The threats comes in the wake of a Feb. 14 school shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead in Parkland, Florida. On Feb. 16, Hawaii News Now reported a social media post threatening violence at Kapolei Middle that prompted an increased police presence at the school.