Suit against Boy Scouts: ‘Pattern of failures’ led to fatal shooting of 11-year-old at Hawaii campsite

Lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Boy Scouts' Aloha Council outlines what the family calls "a pattern of failures" that led to tragic death
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 4:55 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 6:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of an 11-year-old boy who was accidentally shot and killed at a Boy Scouts campsite on the Big Island has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging gross negligence.

The suit names the Boy Scouts of America and the Boy Scouts’ Aloha Council.

Court documents outline what the family calls “a pattern of failures” that led to the tragic death of Manny Carvalho. One alleged failure: Allowing high-powered rifles around children without proper supervision and safety controls.

The Carvalho family claims the Boy Scouts and Aloha Council, which own and operate Camp Honokaia, created hazardous conditions and for years flouted standard operating procedures for firing ranges and shooting sports.

The suit, for example, says the camp ignored a ban on human-shaped and zombie targets and didn’t limit firearms to “22-caliber breech-loading, single-shot or a repeater type bolt-action rifles with a boxstyle magazine.”

Court docs: AK-47 used in accidental shooting death of child at Hawaii Boy Scouts camp

The lawsuit goes on to say there was no safety planning for the Hilo Boy Scout Troop 19 family event on Aug. 28, when Scout family members were invited to bring rifles, shotguns and pistols for a Troop Shoot.

According to the lawsuit, one of the Scout parents brought about a dozen firearms, including an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle, an AR-15, an M-4 carbine, four shotguns, and four Glock pistols.

It says earlier in the day, a troop member accidentally discharged a shotgun, but shooting activities continued.

As children were shooting high-powered rifles, the lawsuit says, no safety official was overseeing the range or tables filled with guns and ammo. Carvalho was sitting in a chair behind the firing line, when another boy picked up the AK-47 and set it back down, an act that discharged a round that hit Carvalho in the back of his head.

There was no magazine in the rifle, but a round had been left in the chamber. something the family believes could have been prevented had safety protocols been in place.

While Hawaii Island police ruled the shooting death accidental, the Carvalhos accuse the Boy Scouts and Aloha Council of negligence and gross negligence, wrongful death and premises liability.

HNN reached out to the Boy Scouts and Aloha Council for reaction and are waiting for a reply.