Criminologists see uptick in gun violence involving Hawaii’s young people

They say it’s no longer knives, fists or baseball bats being used, but guns.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 10:47 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Criminologists said they are noticing more teens and young men involved in gun violence.

In a study on Hawaii youth gangs, University of Hawaii Criminologist Meda Chesney-Lind said there’s a shift in confrontations.

Here’s what she found:

  • Between 2010 and 2019: Hawaii saw a 38% increase in gun deaths
  • And between 2017 and 2022: Oahu saw an 85% increase in murders

“I think the main thing is we can no longer assume that Hawaii is immune from the problem of gun violence, the way we had been decades past,” said Chesney-Lind.

She added that violent criminals are getting younger and less likely to solve problems with their fists.

“Our gangs that used to just restrict themselves to knives or just fists or maybe baseball bats have apparently been getting guns and using guns in confrontations,” said Chesney-Lind.

Two months ago, 19-year-old Nainoa Damon was charged with second-degree murder following a deadly shooting of an 18-year-old man in Tantalus.

Not too long after, 19-year-old Justice Manumalo Kaio was arrested. He allegedly shot a 20-year-old man in Waikiki.

Just recently, 21-year-old Calijah Melvin Maleko was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a shooting near Thomas Square Thursday night. Two other suspects were booked on suspicion of third-degree assault. The victims were all under the age of 20.

“It’s often Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos who get involved and to some degree — now Marshallese and Chuukese youth, as well,” Chesney-Lind said. “There’s been a huge surge in the production and ownership of guns in the U.S.”

But she adds that some of the guns used in these crimes involving youth could be stolen.

Meanwhile, Lisa Tamashiro, director of Adult Friends for Youth, works closely with high-risk kids. She said, “Social media does not help in any way.”

“The COVID isolation has caused kids to just be so pent up and that connection right, they really lost a lot of emotional connection,” said Tamashiro.

“Anytime they’re interacting with people, it’s a negative interaction. They’re angry, you know?”

She added a lack of empathy has caused them to not be able to handle social situations positively.

“The COVID isolation has caused kids to just be so pent up and they really lost a lot of emotional connection.”

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