Two days after a Navy sailor shot three civilian workers at Pearl Harbor and turned his gun on himself, the military has provided remarkably little information about who the shooter was and how the fatal incident happened.
At a press conference Friday morning, officials lined up in front of news cameras, offered little new information, commended each other on their law enforcement collaborations and took questions from only two reporters before abruptly exiting the room.
“They have other obligations,” said Lydia Robertson, a deputy public affairs officer for Navy Region Hawaii.
Military and law enforcement officials turned their backs on reporters and left a press conference shortly after concluding their prepared remarks.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The officials confirmed that Gabriel Antonio Romero, 22, of Texas, opened fire on Department of Defense workers on Wednesday. He killed two: Roldan Aguinaldo Agustin, 49, of Ewa Beach, and Vincent J. Kapoi Jr., 30, of Honolulu.
But the authorities offered little else. Despite all relevant agencies being present at the press conference, Robertson told journalists to follow up with questions at a later time.
“We are continuing to take queries at our office,” Robertson said. “I think you’ll have our answers.”
The media were frustrated Friday morning by the lack of answers authorities provided at a press conference about Wednesday’s shooting at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat)
Robertson would later provide information on Romero’s schooling: He attended the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois from December 2017 to February 2018 and then the Navy Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut until June 15, 2018. Romero began work on the USS Columbia on June 28, 2018, she said. His military record reflects no awards or decorations.
After the press conference, Charles Anthony, the director of public affairs for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, said he didn’t want to take questions from a group of reporters and would rather talk one-on-one.
“I’m not going to get up at the podium because the news conference is over,” he said. “I’ll be more than happy to talk sidebar kind of stuff.”
Navy Public Affairs Officer Chuck Anthony, pictured right of KHON2 reporter Gina Mangieri, deflected questions from journalists who pressed him for answers. He gave little information.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Meanwhile, Anthony lamented “rumors” that he said “are not entirely accurate.” But he declined to correct any alleged inaccuracies.
“What we can release today we have released today,” he said.
The Navy also hasn’t shared basic details about the attack, such as where exactly on the dry dock it occurred, how many shots were fired or which gun or guns Romero used.
Officials also have not released information about Romero’s disciplinary record.
Hawaii News Now, citing anonymous sources, reported that Romero had disciplinary issues at work and had been enrolled in anger management courses. According to a Fox News reporter who obtained an incident report of the shooting, Romero “opened fire on shipyard personnel with his M4 service rifle and then turned his M9 service pistol on himself.”
Officials would also not answer questions about why Romero was allowed to be armed if he was, as reported, experiencing difficulties at work.
Anthony did say that the “primary circumstance” in which a military member has their service weapon taken away is in cases of domestic violence.
“But there are others,” he said.
In response to reporters who expressed frustration by the military’s refusal to even listen to questions, Anthony said: “I’ll take your concerns back to the flagpole, as we say, OK? We got it.”
Meanwhile, in Florida, officials held two press conferences in the hours after a Saudi national shot and killed three people before he was shot dead by police. Eight others were injured. At one of the press conferences, Gov. Ron DiSantis confirmed the shooter was a member of the Saudi Air Force.
Civil Beat has requested several records from the Navy including the shooting incident report and records covering Romero’s schooling, service and potential discipline.
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