Manhunt for man with long criminal past causes lockdown at Waial - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Manhunt for man with long criminal past causes lockdown at Waialua Elementary School

Police seek suspect hiding near Waialua Elementary School Police seek suspect hiding near Waialua Elementary School
Dexter Ragragola Dexter Ragragola
WAIALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Honolulu Police say they were trying to pull over Dexter Ragragola near Waialua Elementary School early Thursday morning for driving a stolen car. He instead crashed into some bushes near the school and allegedly hid from police.

SWAT officers were called in to help with the search.

This was all unfolding as school was about to begin. But police said a manhunt for the 37-year-old is what forced Waialua Elementary into lockdown.

"The staff notified people dropping the children off of the situation and some parents chose to keep their kids home, but a lot of kids did come to school, so we put them in the cafeteria and then later escorted them to their classroom," says Scott Moore, the school principal.

"It was really crazy," says Spirit Ainalani Artis, who lives nearby, "I heard some of the kids were locked in the cafeteria of the school. And they couldn't go anywhere for a long time because the guy was over there hiding somewhere."

Just after 8 a.m., Ragragola was arrested. He has an extensive criminal history which includes assault, drug crimes, and stealing cars. He has not been charged for Thursday's incident, but sources say HPD had been watching him after a series of car thefts in the area.

Classes at Waialua Elementary resumed by 9 a.m. Moore says half of the student body stayed home but those who did attend followed all the lockdown procedures.

"The police were here, they kept us in the loop. All the staff, all the parents, all the students, everybody reacted very well, everybody stayed calm and we were able to get through this situation without any problems," Moore said. 

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