Romero used his service weapon to kill 30-year-old Vincent Kapoi Jr. and another man. He also wounded a third person, news outlets reported. He then turned his sidearm on himself, according to an incident report obtained by Fox News. All three of the victims were civilian shipyard workers employed by the Department of Defense.
Romero was an active duty member of the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the USS Columbia, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine.
The USS Columbia (SSN-771) is a 688-class submarine. It is a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine that changed hands at a ceremony August 3, 2018, according to the U.S. Navy. At that time, it was transferred to the command of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
According to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the U.S. Navy is leading the investigation into the shooting. The shipyard was on lockdown for nearly two hours on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, starting about 2:30 p.m. local time. The access gates were closed. The lockdown was lifted about 4:10 p.m. The shooting occurred near Drydock 2, one of the four shipyards on the base. The base is located about 8 miles from Honolulu. All three of the victims were male shipyard workers.
The military was offering support to the family’s of the victims while the U.S. Navy led the investigation, according to Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, who spoke in a press conference Wednesday. One of the victims has been identified as 32-year-old Vincent Kapoi Jr., family members and friends say. The other victim who was killed has not been named publicly.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gabriel Romero Was Assigned to the USS Columbia as a Petty Officer in the Navy
The man identified as the Pearl Harbor shooter by Hawaii News Now was 22-year-old Gabriel Romero. He was a petty officer in the U.S. Navy. Romero was active duty, and he was working during the shooting.
The military identified the gunman Thursday as a 22-year-old U.S. Navy petty officer assigned to the USS Columbia. According to Hawaii News Now, his name is Gabriel Romero, a sailor.
The Columbia is a Los Angeles-class submarine, meaning it is a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine. At the time of the attack, the Columbia was in drydock for maintenance, and Romero was assigned as an armed guard to monitor the submarine. The base is home to 10 destroyers and 15 submarines, including the Columbia. It is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
2. The USS Columbia Was Undergoing Maintenance While it Was Docked at Drydock 2 in Pearl Harbor, the Location of the Shooting
The submarine was undergoing repairs at Drydock 2. Gabriel Romero had been disciplined before the shooting, and was ordered to attend anger management courses, service members told Hawaii News Now. He opened fire on civilians when he was armed and on duty, assigned to stand guard over the USS Columbia.
The shooting caused panic on the military base. One person wrote on Twitter in a reply to a Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s tweet, saying she was hiding in a pantry. She asked if the shooter, later identified as Gabriel Romero, was near base housing.
“I am hiding in my pantry at home, is the shooter near housing?” she wrote on Twitter.
Yoohyun Jung, a reporter with Honolulu Civil Beat, wrote on Twitter a man who was mostly unclothed appeared distraught.
“A man has been sitting at the gate with only his underwear on, looking distraught ever since the news people got here,” she wrote on Twitter. “Now he’s surrounded by three military cops at five HPD cops. We don’t know why.”
Another military member told Hawaii News Now he was getting a haircut when he started getting a flurry of 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.
Support is being offered to the victims, their families, and anyone on base who is in need, according to the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“Good morning, JBPHH fam,” the military base wrote on Twitter. “In light of yesterday’s tragic events, we just want to remind you that we have counselors available if you need them. Our Military & Family Support Center is accepting walk-in appointments & will be open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. We are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to come in if you need us.
Pearl Harbor Chaplain: 473-3971
Emergency Family Assistance Center: 866-525-6676”
3. Gabriel Romero Was Standing Guard Over the Submarine During the Shooting
Romero was on-duty during the shooting and used his service weapon, authorities said. Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson reports that Romero used an M4 service rifle to shoot the three men. Romero then shot himself in the head with his M9 service pistol, according to an incident report obtained by Fox News.
“The shooting at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard took place near the USS Columbia, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine. The shooter was an active duty U.S. Navy petty officer attached to the submarine, according to a preliminary incident report,” Fox News’ Tomlinson wrote. “The shooter was likely standing watch near the quarterdeck, the entry point to the submarine from the pier, when he opened fire. In port, a sub will typically employ a roving watch for security using a young enlisted sailor, as well as a petty officer of the watch and an officer of the deck on the quarterdeck to check ID cards of crew members and visitors attempting to board and disembark.”
The use of personal weapons on base is not authorized, Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick said at a press conference.
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 to Hawaii News Now.
4. The USS Columbia Is a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine
The USS Columbia (SSN-771) is a 688-class submarine. The Columbia is a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine. It changed hands at a ceremony August 3, 2018, according to the U.S. Navy. At that time, it was transferred to the command of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Cmdr. Tyler Forrest became the commanding officer of Columbia, relieving Cmdr. Dave Edgerton as the commanding officer of Columbia.
“The Columbia is the Battle E boat for Squadron Seven, that means they were the best submarine out of the 10 that were in the squadron,” said Capt. Paul Davis, commander of the Submarine Squadron Seven Davis, during the ceremony. “Squadron Seven is unique in that it is the largest squadron of Los Angeles class submarines in the world. To stand out in such an outstanding crowd is an impressive achievement and a testament to the crew and their leader.”
Edgerton praised his crew for taking care of one another on the Columbia.
“The days when we faced personnel challenges were the days I saw this crew take care of each other and provide support to their shipmates,” he said during the ceremony. “Those were the days we learned humility and we were better as individuals and as a team because of it.”
5. The U.S. Navy Calls the USS Columbia ‘One of the Most Versatile Weapons Platforms Ever Placed in the World’s Oceans
The U.S. Navy describes the USS Columbia as “one of the most versatile weapons platforms ever placed in the world’s oceans.” In an article about the USS Columbia’s transfer ceremony, the Navy described the strength of the submarine.
“Columbia is one of the most versatile weapons platforms ever placed in the world’s oceans, capable of long-range Tomahawk strike operations, anti-submarine and surface shipping operations, surveillance and intelligence gathering, and special forces insertions,” the U.S. Navy reported.
The 688-class submarine was commissioned in 1995. It changed hands at a ceremony August 3, 2018, according to the U.S. Navy. At that time, it was transferred to the command of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Some service members who lived and worked on base rushed to the scene in hopes of offering help and learning information, they told NBC News.
“Our first response was to come here,” one man said, his head darting around as though he might need to take action to thwart an active shooter.
He said he and his friend were getting haircuts when the shooting started. A mutual friend worked at Drydock 2. He was leaving when the shooting occurred and ran to his car.
“We want to know what’s going on. We want to help, obviously, but we can’t,” he said, “That’s probably the worst part.”