When missile alert went out, hundreds sought refuge in Ala Moana gym

When missile alert went out, hundreds sought refuge in Ala Moana gym
Updated: Jan. 15, 2018 at 8:05 PM HST
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Moments after Saturday's erroneous missile alert sounded on Hawaii cell phones, surveillance cameras outside the Planet Fitness at Ala Moana Center captured high school students who had been participating in a canoe race at Magic Island running to take cover.

Brandon Tapati, along with his wife and daughter, were among the hundreds in the crowd.

"It was like a movie. We were literally running for our lives," said Tapati. "People were running traffic lights. My daughter, she saw a kid get trampled. A two-year-old got ran over by the crowd."

In the midst of the chaos, the gym's manager welcomed anyone who needed shelter. Josh Hankin helped open the fitness center less than a month ago.

"Everyone went straight back into the locker room areas," said Hankin. "There were people crying together. There were people praying together, supporting one another."

Hankin estimates close to 300 people hunkered down in the gym.

"Surprisingly, it was the highschoolers who were most prepared for it, because they've had drills and stuff like that. So a lot of the adults were kind of looking around and following the highschoolers' leads because they were the ones who knew," said Hankin.

For more than 20 minutes, everyone sat paralyzed with fear as they anticipated the worst. Hankin says it wasn't until one of the people inside spoke with a relative in the military that they realized the state wasn't under attack.

Now, the memory of what happened is sparking outrage as people demand change.

"My family should have never gone through what they went through that day. Unacceptable. Unacceptable," said Tapati. "The state of Hawaii got to fix it. You got to do something fast. Because this should have never happened."

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