Police have arrested a 23-year-old Kona man whose threatening text messages prompted schools in Waimea and Honoka‘a to lock down their campuses Monday morning.
Lyle Kawika Pascubillo of Kailua-Kona was being held at the Kona police cellblock on suspicion of three terroristic threat offenses, police said. Detectives are continuing their investigation.
Hamakua patrol officers received a complaint from a 25-year-old Honoka‘a woman, who reported receiving numerous threatening telephone calls and text messages from an unknown source.
Text messages received by the woman made reference to the threat of violent actions taking place at schools in Waimea and Honoka‘a.
Police contacted officials at the schools and notified them of the threats. As a precaution, school officials placed the following schools under lock down: Honokaa High and Intermediate, Honokaa Elementary, Waimea Elementary, and Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School.
The schools were locked down at about 10:30 a.m. and parents were notified using an automated system, Waimea Elementary Principal Marcella McClelland said.
“We have this all-call system we have to notify families,” McClelland said Monday morning. “We … asked them to not come in to pick up their children … and to not tie up their phone lines by calling the school.”
The lockdowns were lifted Monday afternoon following Pascubillo’s arrest at a Kailua-Kona home.
In a letter to parents released late Monday, Matt Horne, Waimea Middle School principal, said the “students performed admirably throughout this extended event.”
“While students were safe in classrooms with their teachers, we know it was frightening and uncomfortable,” he wrote. “Please give them extra hugs this evening — they have earned it today!”
Horne thanked “our faculty and staff for always putting the safety of our children first.” He also expressed “regret that we didn’t have more information to share with families and sincerely thank everyone for following procedures and not coming to campus to ensure everyone’s safety. We hope this never happens again, but if it does, please feel free to call the school office, listen to or log on to local news media, check our school website, or go to Facebook. We will do everything possible to keep families informed.”
Three calls were placed to families via the school’s automated system. Horne urged any families who did not receive a call to check with the school to confirm their contact information.
Earlier Monday during the lockdown, police Capt. Richard Miyamoto, the Hamakua District commander, described the threat as vague and “kind of weird,” and that it was received either by text message or email by “an individual who is not connected to the school at all.”