HONOLULU — A police officer shot a 17-year-old runaway in the wrist Tuesday morning at a Hawaii high school after the teen cut one officer with a knife and punched two others, authorities said.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said the boy showed up at Roosevelt High School near downtown Honolulu, and officials there recognized him as a runaway and called police. The boy had been a student at the public school before, but wasn’t registered for classes there this semester, she said.
Honolulu police Maj. Richard Robinson said officers arrived at the school and tried to take the boy into custody, but he lunged at them.
The teen attacked one of the officers with a kitchen knife, leaving him with a minor cut on his torso, Robinson said. He also hit two other officers, but neither suffered serious injuries.
One of the officers then fired two shots, hitting the boy once in the wrist. The teen was taken to a hospital in serious condition, EMS spokeswoman Shayne Enright said. His injuries were not life-threatening.
“The suspect was taken into custody and walked out of the school,” Robinson said. He added the boy was arrested on suspicion of three counts of attempted murder.
The incident prompted a lockdown at Roosevelt, which has an enrollment of nearly 1,400.
The officer who fired is on administrative leave during an investigation, Robinson said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the officer who fired aimed for the boy’s arm or another part of his body. Robinson said the details were part of the ongoing investigation.
Tenari Maafala, president of the statewide police officers union, said the knife posed a clear threat and officers are trained to stop a threat, regardless of the suspect’s age.
“They didn’t come here looking to shoot somebody,” said Maafala, who went to the school as part of the Honolulu police peer support unit.
Noah Powell, a 16-year-old junior, said the shooting happened in a school counselor’s office. Powell said he was in a nearby office and heard the struggle and shots but didn’t see the 17-year-old or know who he was.
Powell texted his parents afterward to let them know he was OK. He said he also posted on Facebook that he was fine and got quick responses from people saying they were praying for the school.
Kealii Akiona-Soares, a junior, was in a social studies class when he heard a faint shot at about 8:20 a.m.
Then a school bell sounded and students were kept in their classrooms, the 17-year-old said. He said his class continued with a politics lesson, and everyone kept mostly calm.
“I guess it happens a lot in mainland schools, so it’s not surprising,” Akiona-Soares said.
Several parents, including Carolyn Richardson, gathered outside Roosevelt after word of the shooting spread. Some were visibly upset, and many texted or called their children, who were still on lockdown inside.
“This is really freaking me out,” Richardson said.
She said she learned about the shooting around 9 a.m. through a text from her son, CarDarow.
CarDarow, a sophomore, texted her that he heard shots had been fired at the school but that he was all right. Richardson then used her cellphone to video chat with her son.
“I gotta hear your voice,” she screamed at him.
Faith Kalamau said she rushed to the school as soon as she got an automated call saying the campus was on lockdown.
“I’m very worried,” she said. “I heard on the news there were some people shot.”
After reuniting with her son, freshman Kahaku King, she said officials took too long to provide details about what happened.
“I was frustrated,” she said. “I thought maybe more information should have been told to the parents or at least to the media. This is the first time I’ve been in this situation.”
School was let out for the day at about 10 a.m., and a steady stream of students filed off the campus, near the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific known as Punchbowl. Classes were to resume Wednesday.
“Incidents like this are very rare in Hawaii; however, our partnership with the Honolulu Police Department on safety drills played a major role in the success of today’s lockdown,” Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. She commended staff and students for following safety protocols and thanked parents for their patience and understanding.
Hawaii is one of 12 states that have not had someone enter a campus with the intent to shoot, state Education Department officials said.
In 2011, a handgun that a 14-year-old student brought to Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City went off, narrowly missing one student and leaving another with minor injuries.
“I’m really shocked it happened here in Hawaii of all places,” said Angie Estrella as she picked up her son, a freshman, and her daughter, a senior.
The shooting at Roosevelt comes amid a string of violence in recent months involving students at U.S. schools.
On Monday, a 16-year-old boy set himself on fire at a suburban Denver high school in an apparent suicide attempt. And earlier this month, a seventh-grader opened fire in a Roswell, N.M., middle school gym, wounding a 12-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl.
In Philadelphia, a boy and a girl hanging out with fellow students this month in a high school gym were shot and wounded.
Last month, a student gunman in Centennial, Colo., shot and killed a 17-year-old classmate before killing himself — a day before the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
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