Unlikely story of shooting recanted
Police are considering a rare prosecution for filing a false report
A 16-year-old boy faces offenses of firearm violations and filing a false report after telling police initially that his friend was critically injured in a drive-by shooting, when in fact the gun went off by accident in Aiea Monday night.
His case will go to Family Court, which is protected by confidentiality laws.
The two boys, 16, were playing with a stolen, loaded .38-caliber gun in the Aiea Public Library parking lot when it accidentally went off and fired one bullet into a boy's chest. He is in guarded condition at the Queen's Medical Center.
This comes after a woman lied last month about being raped in Kalihi, a case also widely publicized when police had called for the public's help.
To Honolulu police Detective Gary Lahens, the story seemed fishy from the beginning.
A 16-year-old boy called 911 on Monday night to report that a friend had been wounded in a drive-by shooting outside the Aiea Library.
The details -- that a back-seat passenger in a shiny black sedan had fired a single shot -- seemed to support a random act. But Lahens had learned over the years that few shootings in Hawaii are random.
And in this case it was a lie.
The boy who called 911 was being held yesterday at the juvenile detention center on Alder Street, facing accusations in Family Court of filing a false police report and a firearm violation.
His tangled web began to unravel on Tuesday, when police re-interviewed him and a 15-year-old girl who was also at the scene. There were discrepancies in the stories -- where the car had been, where they were standing.
"It gave me a little inclination that something was wrong," Lahens said.
Lahens waited until the 16-year-old gunshot victim, whom friends call "Malu," woke up in the intensive care unit of the Queen's Medical Center, hoping to get more answers.
"He said he didn't remember anything at all," Lahens said. "In some cases they're still shocked the next day. But he was coherent and could understand us, so we became suspicious."
Lahens went back to several other witnesses, who told him the three teenagers were the only ones in front of the library that night. When Lahens interviewed the two boys and girl separately again, they broke down and told the truth.
The girl said she had gone back into a nearby store and left the two teen boys in the parking lot. They were playing with a stolen .38-caliber gun.
It went off.
Police are still searching for the gun, which the boy in custody reportedly had for "a long time" before the shooting. Lahens declined to say where the boy left it.
The girl will likely not be arrested, Lahens added.
Honolulu police spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii said police have rarely pushed prosecutors to charge those who file false police reports. That could change, he said.
"When people report things like this, we put a lot of resources into something that sounds initially so threatening to the community," Fujii said yesterday at a news conference. "The message here is that you can't do that and expect to get away with it anymore."
Last month, a 44-year-old woman reported being raped in Kalihi, and police called for the public's help. They arrested a man, then released him when they found out she had lied.
For adults, filing a false police report is a misdemeanor punishable by a $2,000 fine and one year in jail.
"It's frustrating for us to spend a huge amount of personnel, time, effort and energy and to find out that this was a false report," Fujii said.
He said gun owners should take a lesson from this case and properly lock up their weapons.
"There are some laws we would still like to have enacted," Fujii said, "and one of those would be to make it mandatory to report when handguns are stolen."