HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii County sends text message alerts for school threats, storms, even road closures. But no such alert was sent out Wednesday as a gunman fired shots and rammed vehicles during a six-hour crime spree across the island.
Joshua Hams, 38, finally surrendered to police Wednesday afternoon after barricading himself in a home in Holualoa after the crime spree that spanned four police districts.
A Kona police lieutenant told Hawaii News Now that an alert wasn’t sent out through the Nixle system because there wasn’t enough time.
A former Hawaii County police officer says whoever is responsible for sending out the public alert should know better.
“That’s not an excuse. Someone could have put that Nixle out. I know for a fact it could have been put out,” said Thomas Fratinardo, who now gives news updates for KCIF radio station in Hilo.
Hams was charged with 39 counts on Thursday, from car theft to terroristic threatening to robbery and firearms charges.
Fratinardo says the incident involving gunfire, a carjacking and multiple crashes — exactly the type of situation that requires a Nixle alert to warn the public that an armed man is on a destructive rampage.
“The patrol officers and SRT did their job to the max. They did their job well," he said.
“It’s just that the breakdown wise, the communication between the police department and the public. We look at the police department as the experts to keep us safe. Why did that fail?”
Hams has a record dating back to 2001 with 18 prior convictions for domestic violence, drugs and felony gun charges.
No one was seriously injured on Wednesday, but Fratinardo says that doesn’t change the fact that police did not use one of their most valuable tools.
“The public should have been notified as soon as it was occurring,” he said.
“What we want to focus on is keeping the public informed so they can lock themselves in place until the hazard has been removed. Give the public an opportunity to make that choice for themselves.”
Hams is currently being held on $812,000 bail.
Anyone who may have additional information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.