Father says son found gun at Oahu middle school

May 24, 2011 - 11:28 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — A Glock pistol fired at a Hawaii grade school was found by an eighth-grade boy in a secluded area of campus before it went off, causing another student to suffer minor hand injuries, the boy's father said Tuesday.

Jason Takayesu said his 14-year-old son discovered the gun on the grounds of Highlands Intermediate School on Monday and then showed it to friends before school started, waving it around.

Honolulu police said one of the boy's friends pushed the gun away, and that's when it fired. The bullet ricocheted off a lava rock wall, fragmented and injured another boy nearby. It was the first time a gun was fired at a Hawaii school.

"It was a bad choice on his part, and he's lucky he didn't end up killing his friend," Takayesu told The Associated Press. "I'm sorry for what happened. I'm just thankful it wasn't worse."

The boy was arrested and released to his parents, said Honolulu police Lt. John McCarthy. Police initially classified the arrest as one that was made on suspicion of attempted murder, but that will likely change now that more facts are known.

After parents complained that they weren't notified of the emergency by phone or text message, public school officials said they're considering ways to improve communications.

"Plans are in place in our complex area to improve our mass messaging and communications," said Sheldon Oshio, the complex area superintendent who oversees Highlands Intermediate. "We always want to be cognizant on how and when we want to communicate so it doesn't impede any investigation."

It wasn't clear what kind of communication system could be put in place. Some private schools in Hawaii use automated phone messaging systems.

The boy will be suspended from public school for his freshman year and will attend an alternative school in the fall, Takayesu said.

The gun was legally registered to a person outside the immediate family, who reported it stolen when confronted by police Monday. The gun owner told police the gun had been missing for several months, McCarthy said.

"My son did not bring a gun to the school," Takayesu said.

He said his son told him the weapon was found on campus.

Police said they're trying to determine how the gun arrived on school grounds.

"We have a good idea, but we're investigating it," McCarthy said.

Children in the 928-student school brought home letters Monday from a vice principal explaining what happened.

School administrators ensured student safety by quickly responding to the incident, which occurred more than an hour before the school day began, Oshio said.

The school wasn't locked down following the incident, and classes continued as normal.

"The school assessed the situation and took swift action on containing the situation, and the appropriate authorities were contacted," Oshio said.