20 years since worst mass shooting in modern Hawaii history–the Xerox murders

Local News

This Saturday marks a significant anniversary. But it’s not one for celebrating.

On November 2, 20 years ago, the worst mass shooting in Hawaii’s modern history happened.

The victims were Jason Balatico, Ford Kanehira, Ronald Kataoka, Ronald Kawamae, Melvin Lee, Peter Mark, and John Sakamoto.

The murders occurred in a general atmosphere of uncertainty and paranoia: three years after the Sand Island hostage crisis, six months after the Columbine shooting, and two months away from the Y2K scare. In retrospect, the shooting can be easily seen as a singularly tragic event, but that was not evident at the time.

The Xerox murders stand as the worst mass shooting Hawaii has ever seen — in a state with the least amount of gun violence in the country — and it remains a shocking reminder of how guns and mental health issues are not just mainland problems.

It is difficult to remember the Xerox murders, and powerfully tempting to want to forget them. But there is value in summoning the courage to face even the most horrific acts. It’s an innately human virtue to use tragedy as a tool to understand why such terrible things happen, and to learn how to stop them from happening as much as we possibly can.

On a special report that aired Oct. 30 on the News at 9, KHON2’s Brigette Namata took viewers on a deep dive of the Xerox murders in a five-part series. She covered the murders, the surrender, the trial, the victims, and the lasting effects of the shooting. To view, click here.

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