Gunman in deadly Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting identified as investigation continues

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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Investigators are still trying to determine why a U.S. Navy sailor opened fire at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on Wednesday, killing two civilian workers and injuring one other before killing himself.

First responders arrived at the scene of a reported active shooter situation at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

Sources have identified the gunman as Gabriel Romero, an active duty sailor assigned to the USS Columbia.

The two victims who died, both men, were initially taken to hospitals in extremely critical condition. A third gunshot victim, a 36-year-old man, remains in guarded condition at the Queen’s Medical Center.

The identifies of the victims have not yet been released.

The shooting at Drydock 2 threw a tight-knit community into mourning. Non-essential shipyard employees were told to stay home from work Wednesday night and Thursday.

Normal operations on base were set to resume Friday.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone involved,” said Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii. “This is certainly a tragedy for everyone here.”

He said it wasn’t immediately clear whether Romero knew the victims ― all shipyard employees ― or if the three were targeted at random.

He also didn’t have details about what type of gun was used or a possible motive.

In a message sent to shipyard employees, Shipyard Commander Capt. Greg Burton said in part, “I know that no words will convey the full measure of sorrow from today’s tragedy. This loss will be felt throughout our shipyard ‘Ohana, greater shipyard & NAVSEA family, submarine force, and the Navy as a whole.”

Family members and shipyard employees impacted by the tragedy are being offered counseling services.

They also opened the Emergency Family Assistance Center at 4827 Bougainville Drive. It will remain open until further notice.

“Looking ahead, we will honor the life and legacy of those lost. Even now, as we mourn the loss of members of our ‘Ohana, please take the opportunity to reconnect with each other and to reinforce and strengthen the bonds with each other. We value each one of you deeply and we are here for you,” Capt. Burton added.

First responders were called to the base about 2:30 p.m.

In the minutes after the shooting, base personnel were urged over a PA system and with text messages to shelter in place.

A lockdown that was put in place after the shooting was lifted about 4 p.m.

Navy Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick confirmed that officials have launched a full investigation and at least 100 witnesses were being interviewed.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service — or NCIS — has taken the lead. However, Honolulu police detectives and the city Medical Examiner’s Office have also responded.

On Thursday morning, the White House said President Donald Trump was keeping a close eye on the situation. However, he has not yet publicly commented.

Gov. David Ige said the White House has offered assistance in the wake of the shooting.

“I join in solidarity with the people of Hawaii as we express our heartbreak over this tragedy and concern for those affected by the shooting,” Ige said, in a statement.

The shooting broke the calm of what was otherwise an uneventful day, witnesses said.

One witness said he was at his desk when he heard loud pops.

“I kind of recognize that as gunshots,” he said. “I looked out the window, saw three people on the ground. I looked out in time to see the shooter ... shoot himself.”

Alex Ojeda and Will Churchhill reported to their first day at work on base Wednesday when the active shooter situation started.

“We were actually on our way out,” Ojeda said. “We didn’t expect that at all.”

One member of the military said he was getting a haircut when his cell phone blew up with text messages. “We got a bunch of texts from on the ship and on the barge letting us know there’s an active shooter alert,” the service member said.

The shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam triggered panic for those who live or work in the area.

Traffic near the base and on Nimitz Highway was heavy, and officials urged those headed to the airport to allow for extra travel time.

The USS Columbia, which Romero was assigned to, is currently undergoing repairs at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, which is its homeport.

The 360-foot-long, 6,000-ton submarine was commissioned in 1995.

It has a crew of about 150, which often conducts operations across the Pacific.

The Navy says it’s one of the most modern subs in the world, capable of long-range Tomahawk strike operations, anti-submarine operations, as well as surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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