Sailor’s suicide while on armed watch preceded deadly shipyard shooting

Updated: Dec. 11, 2019 at 5:02 PM HST
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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A week after a deadly shipyard shooting in which a sailor opened fire and then killed himself, HNN is learning of another submariner’s suicide weeks earlier that also happened while the service member was on armed sentry duty.

In both instances, the sailors used their service weapons.

Sources say workers are growing more concerned about the lack of answers from the U.S. Navy and wondering if those who carry service weapons are mentally fit.

The previous suicide happened happened at Kilo Pier across from the Arizona Memorial weeks before last Wednesday’s deadly shipyard shooting.

A crew member of the USS Chicago was assigned an armed watch when he took his own life with his service weapon.

[Read more: Navy declines to discuss service history, disciplinary problems of sailor who fatally shot 2]

Gabriel Romero, 22, who had spent time training on the USS Chicago, was also on sentry duty when he killed two civilian workers, injured another and then killed himself at dry dock 2.

He used his service weapons, an M4 rifle and an M9 pistol, in the shooting.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Kym Pine’s husband is in the Navy and her brother-in-law was assigned to the same dock.

"My brother-in-law was assigned there the day before at that exact same spot. He suddenly fell ill and went home that day. We are very grateful that he is safe," said Pine.

Pine says workers are worried about the lack of communication from the Navy.

"They are not getting the assurances that they want from leadership at the Navy to let them know that they have taken steps to discover where any mistakes have happened, that they've taken steps to ensure everyone is secure and if anyone carrying a gun is mentally fit to do so," she said.

Multiple sources say Romero had undergone anger management classes recently and was having disciplinary problems.

But the Navy has declined to comment on those reports.

Romero, of San Antonio, Texas, was a machinist mate auxiliary fireman with the USS Columbia.

In 2018, he went to Navy Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, after attending Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois

As a memorial at dry dock 2 continues to grow, Hawaii News Now has learned some shipyard work has resumed, but that some workers were told they could take as much time as they needed to cope.

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