Police investigating possible bullet hole in Mauna Kea observatory

Police investigating possible bullet hole in Mauna Kea observatory
Published: Jun. 7, 2015 at 2:18 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 8, 2015 at 6:31 AM HST
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Possible bullet hole at Subaru Telescope | Courtesy NAOJ
Possible bullet hole at Subaru Telescope | Courtesy NAOJ

MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii island police are investigating a possible bullet hole that was found at the Subaru Telescope atop Mauna Kea.

It's believed the damage happened sometime between Friday evening and Saturday evening.

"When officers responded to the scene, they found out that sometime after about 4 p.m., the employees had found something appearing to be a bullet hole in one of the doors," said Hilo patrol Sgt. Paul Kim.

Photos provided by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, which operates the telescope, show a hole just over 9.5 millimeters in diameter.

The Subaru Telescope is an 8.2 meter optical and infrared telescope, which began operating in the summit area of Mauna Kea in 1999 after seven years of construction.

Japanese astronomers have used the telescope to discover distant primordial galaxies and new solar systems.

The possible gunshot damage comes at a time of heightened controversy atop the mountain, as opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope have blocked its construction since late March, with protests spreading worldwide.


Mauna a Wakea protector Kahookahi Kanuha said he has no idea where the damage came from.

"We do not condone that kind of action by anybody for any reason at any time, especially on Mauna a Wakea, the place that we know is sacred," Kanuha said.

Kanuha was one of the 31 people arrested for blocking construction crews heading to the summit back in April. He said police called him Sunday morning to tell him about the investigation.

"I know that it had nothing to do with our people on the mountain, and I just hope they can figure it out soon," said Kanuha.

Critics of the Thirty Meter Telescope have been atop the mountain for 74 days. Kanuha said no one heard hear any gunshots or see suspicious activity over the weekend.



Police said they don't know who is responsible for the damage at the Subaru Telescope. It's also the first time they've responded to this kind of vandalism atop the mountain.

"As far as I'm aware, I can't think of any previous incident similar to this," said Kim.

Police have currently classified the case as reckless endangering and criminal property damage. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Officer Nelson Cacho at 961-2213 or the Police Department's non-emergency line at 935-3311. Anonymous tips can be made by calling the Hawaii island Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

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