Koko Head Range Officer released from jail, speaks about flare gun fire

Published: Oct. 10, 2011 at 3:02 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 10, 2011 at 3:08 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - 29-year-old Kevin Nakagami was arrested by police on suspicion of first-degree arson, after he reportedly told them that he'd fired a flare gun at the Koko Head shooting complex.

The flare had landed in some dry brush and snowballed into a full-scale fire fight and rescue operation on the Koko Head hillside.

Nakagami is a range officer employed by the shooting complex.

"Kevin is actually one of the better range officers. He's very good as far as taking care of the new shooters, as well as keeping the place safe." said Russell Takata, a gun club member.

The safety of several hikers was in question as winds pushed the wildfire dangerously close to the popular steep trail.

Before Nakagami was taken to jail he personally witnessed the  events unfold.

"As I saw them being rescued yes, I saw the police helicopter at least 3 or 4 times at the top of the mountain rescuing people and I just felt sick to my stomach." said Nakagami.

After spending nearly 48 hours in jail Nakagami spoke exclusively to Hawaii News Now.

"I really want to let everyone know that was involved, that I'm very sorry for this event. I didn't mean for it to happen, it was a stupid mistake on my part." he explained.

It was a costly mistake, but say his supporters, it was no more than that, "As far as being an arsonist, no. I don't think there's any intention on his part to start fires around the place." said Takata.

Kevin was appreciative of the kind support and regrets his actions. He told us, "Since I've been working there so long, there's a lot of guys that know me that support me and I just feel so embarrassed for this to happen."

The criminal investigation shut down the gun range for the entire weekend, forcing a last-minute tournament cancellation.

A day that went wrong, for what may have simply been lack of better judgement, was ultimately kept under control by professionals much like Nakagami, who's job it is to follow procedure at all times.

Nakagami says it reinforced some lessons, "It's been a learning life experience for me. Just think about the consequences of your actions."

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.