‘It was horrific’: Sailor’s death at the Kahala Hotel and Resort stirs emotions

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — It was tense hours for those stuck inside The Kahala Hotel and Resort during Saturday’s barricade.

A guest who stayed two flights above the suspect said he has traveled back home, but it is an experience that is difficult to leave behind.

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A gunman barricaded himself inside his hotel room and forced all guests at the Kahala to seek shelter. Some people sheltered in the lobby and ballroom, others like David Fox remained inside their room when the lockdown was announced through the hotel’s speaker system.

“The whole hotel was held hostage basically from this event — it was horrific,” Fox said. “I’m not making light of the situation, but it was a freak 10-hour thing.” 

Fox was vacationing on Oahu with his family. He said they tried not to end their vacation on a sour note, but this experience was certainly unexpected for all of them.

The Hawaii Psychological Association President Dr. Noza Yusufbekova said this would be considered a traumatic event for those involved, directly or indirectly. She also said it would be normal for some to have nightmares about this evening or feel a little anxious.

“When you sustain this type of experience it creates incongruence,” Dr. Yusufbekova said. “You just don’t feel congruent or the environment doesn’t feel congruent because the environment is so peaceful and beautiful. And when you pair it with this type of trauma, it just doesn’t quite match.”  

The Navy confirmed the suspect in the incident was a Sailor assigned to the Pacific Submarine Force.

In March, a 23-year-old Sailor based there committed suicide while on duty. Torpedoman’s Mate Third Class Petty Officer Manuel H. Julian died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot on March 15.

More than a year ago, a Sailor opened fire at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, killing two people and himself.

An investigation by the Navy found there was a failure to diagnose that suspect’s mental health condition, and the Navy said they would implement safety recommendations.

The Navy has yet to release further information about the Sailor involved in Saturday’s barricade.

For those who witnessed those hours of suspect, it is recommended to speak with a trusted person.

Fox said, “I never thought in my life we would be involved in one of those things, but we sure were.” 

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