KAILUA-KONA — Students were released from Kohala Middle School Wednesday afternoon following an hours-long lockdown that was prompted by a search for an active shooter in Kapaau.
The incident began around 9 a.m. Wednesday when officers were sent to the area of Wainaia Gulch off Akoni Pule Highway to a report of a shooting.
Police later confirmed to West Hawaii Today that a man was shot and taken to North Hawaii Community Hospital, and then transferred to Oahu for additional care. No additional information has been provided by police.
Though school normally ends at 12:55 p.m. on Wednesdays, all students remained in lockdown until 1:35 p.m., said Derek Inoshita, Department of Education spokesman. The lockdown went into effect at 9:35 a.m.
“Students are being dismissed as normal now, following the 40-minute delay. Police have opened one lane so buses and vehicles can now access the area,” Inoshita said.
During the lockdown, Inoshita said each classroom had supplies for the emergency and that students were being escorted to restrooms, as needed. Officers were also on the campus and messages were sent to parents amid the lockdown.
Police reopened Akoni Pule Highway between Iole and Halaula roads about 2:45 p.m. The road closure went into effect shortly after 10 a.m.
Kohala High School did not go on lockdown, Inoshita said.
As the incident continues Wednesday, Hawaii Police are searching for a man wanted in connection with a shooting in Kailua-Kona. However, police confirmed the two incidents are not connected.
Last week’s shooting involved suspect Walter Gomes III, who was last seen fleeing into a field in the Hawi area on Thursday, March 21. Gomes, 41, is wanted for questioning in connection with a reported shooting March 20 in Kailua-Kona that left a woman with non life-threatening injuries.
The pursuit for Gomes began after a woman turned up at Kona Community Hospital with a single gunshot wound. At approximately 2:05 a.m. on Thursday, police had their first encounter with Gomes in Kona near Costco.
After refusing commands, police opened fire on the 41-year-old as he drove toward a police vehicle. Hours later, the search for Gomes took officers north to Hawi where police discharged their weapons on two more occasions, once at the Minit Stop and Ohana Fuels and again a half a mile away on Akoni Pule Highway near Old Camp 17 Road.
Gomes disappeared into the North Kohala brush after crashing into a police cruiser March 21.
West Hawaii Today reporter Tiffany DeMasters contributed to this report.