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Armed barricade, lockdown of guests and staff at Kahala resort ends after nearly 10 hours

Updated: Apr. 11, 2021 at 6:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An armed man barricaded in his fourth floor room at the Kahala Hotel & Resort fired through the door at security staff, police say, triggering an hours-long lockdown Saturday night and a huge police response as authorities scrambled to keep guests and staff safe.

The first shot was fired about 6 p.m. and the lockdown ended nearly 10 hours later, when SWAT officers made entry into the room and found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The man’s identity has not yet been released, but officials confirmed Sunday he was a member of the Navy assigned to the Pacific Submarine Force.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a shipmate. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Sailor’s family and friends. Each member of our Navy team is important; this is a tragic loss to our Force and Navy Family. We live and work here, and we appreciate the support of law enforcement and the community,” a Navy spokesperson said.

The suspect’s military commander reportedly responded to the scene, where members of his family were also assisting police.

Shortly after the suspect allegedly fired the first shot, police were clearing the beach and beachside eateries at the Kahala Hotel and yelling at guests and passersby to get inside. More than 100 people were ushered into the ballroom, where they remained into the early morning. Guests staying in rooms near the barricaded man were also evacuated, and others were asked to stay in the lobby.

As the situation dragged on, the hotel provided displaced guests with food, blankets and pillows.

“Nobody is injured. Everybody is accounted for,” Police Capt. Brian Lynch told reporters at the scene about 9 p.m. “We’re just waiting for the suspect to give up.”

A large police presence responded to the Kahala Resort & Hotel on Saturday night amid a...
A large police presence responded to the Kahala Resort & Hotel on Saturday night amid a barricade situation.(Hawaii News Now)

The barricade situation started on an otherwise quiet evening at the luxury resort. Outside, a mix of residents and visitors were enjoying a bite or taking in the sights when police officers ran by yelling for them get inside. Those who were in their rooms at the hotel were told to shelter in place.

It wasn’t immediately clear what led up to the man barricading himself, but police said about 6 p.m. hotel security staff went up to the room where the man was located and knocked on the door.

That’s when the suspect allegedly fired at least one shot.

“Thankfully, the security guard wasn’t standing in front of the door,” Lynch said.

Police sources tell Hawaii News Now that the suspect also fired through his door multiple times as officers in the hallway called his name. There were no reports of rounds fired from the balcony.

But that possibility prompted police officers to quickly clear the beach and ask people to shelter in place. The scene was described as jarring and chaotic to those in the middle of it.

Honolulu resident Rex Jakobovits was among those ushered into the ballroom. He told Hawaii News Now he was walking on the beach in the area about 6 p.m. when officers told him to get inside immediately.

“They were yelling there was a shooter and I needed to get inside,” he said.

He said officers were also pointing guns up at a balcony of the hotel.

Rex Jakobovits snapped this photo of guests and staff locked down in the Kahala Resort &...
Rex Jakobovits snapped this photo of guests and staff locked down in the Kahala Resort & Hotel's banquet hall.(Rex Jakobovits)

Jakobovits said the mood inside the ballroom was initially quite tense, with some people crying, but eventually lightened. He said people felt safe because officers were posted outside the doors.

Meanwhile, those locked down in their rooms or in the lobby spent the night waiting for news.

And some said the incident was particularly frightening given the backdrop of shootings nationally.

“I am completely freaking out,” said guest Maggie Marcelli. “There’s been so much horrible stuff that’s been going on and I’m first of all just scared for whoever this person is. Obviously there’s something wrong, but also just scared for everyone involved that’s having to go through this.”

She added, “This is a very difficult situation and emotions are going everywhere.”

Shortly after the situation started, a staff member delivered this message over the hotel loudspeaker:

“Attention! Attention! Due to the building emergency, we ask that all hotel guests remain in their rooms with their doors locked and off of their balconies.”

Kahala resident Yevgeniy Lendel said he was walking in the area when officers rushed to the scene.

“The cops told everyone to run and shelter,” he said. “We ran away from the hotel.”

Selma Thelmaagaa, a guest at the hotel, was headed to dinner when the situation started. “They announced on the intercom to shelter in place and stay away from the windows and doors,” she said.

The hotel issued this statement on the incident Saturday night:

“This evening, an individual with a firearm barricaded himself in one of the guest rooms at The Kahala. Our security personnel and law enforcement have evacuated guests and employees from the immediate area and everyone is sheltering in place.”

This story will be updated.

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