Lawmakers want State Capitol to be safer after deadly shooting

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Lawmakers are in shock that a shooting involving a Sheriff’s deputy took place at the state capitol. This happened around 8:20 Monday night at the Ewa-makai corner of the rotunda. 

We’re told the Sheriff’s deputy was on a routine foot patrol when he saw the 28-year-old man. The Department of Public Safety says the man had an open container of alcohol and was told to leave. Officials say he was combative and then a struggle began. They say the deputy was assaulted. 

“He was in an extreme struggle inclusive of arms wrapped around the individual’s head and upper torso,” said Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda.

That’s when the deputy fired his weapon, hitting the man in the upper body. Espinda says to his knowledge a single shot was fire, but he was not certain at this time. The 28-year-old man was taken to the hospital where he died. 

We asked if security measures at the capitol will change in light of what’s happened.

“We certainly will take into account any improvements we can make. It’s very early in the investigation and I will not be able to definitively say at this time whether or not the incident requires us to make any changes to current operations,” said Espinda. 

Officials won’t disclose current security measures but say on Monday night, the capitol patrol section was fully staffed at the capitol. We’re told the deputy has been employed since May 2017. He’s been placed on restricted duty at this time.

We asked about security camera footage, and officials tell us the system did not capture the incident. 

“To get into this building it’s easier than going through to McDonald’s. It’s too simple,” said Representative Gene Ward. 

Some lawmakers tell us security needs to increase to the level of protection almost every other state capitol has.

“It’s about time we wake up to the realities of security. It’s a common norm which we refuse. We can still be e komo mai by the way we behave, the way we answer the phone, and the way we meet with people,” said Rep. Ward. 

There’s been a couple of proposals over the past few years to increase security. There’s also a measure, HB 1488, introduced this session that looks to develop and implement an enhanced security plan for the state capitol.

“We are looking, collaboratively the Senate and agencies here, at options that do include screening so metal detectors and basic things like that. Make sure that people can’t use their vehicles and drive with explosives or anything of the sort,” said Representative Chris Lee. 

Honolulu Police is investigating this case as an unattended death and assault on a law enforcement officer. It’s classified as unattended pending the Medical Examiner’s report. 

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