Thursday, April 22, 1999


Could it happen
here? Not if state,
schools can help it

But Gov. Cayetano says tracking
at-risk students is a difficult task

By Craig Gima


Gov. Ben Cayetano says the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado shows school violence can happen anywhere.

Cayetano said he has talked with schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu to make make sure the schools in Hawaii are trying to prevent similar incidents.

"I think you have to be very sensitive and aware of students who seem to be going through problems, and we need to find some way to address those students," Cayetano said.

He said he has sent a message of sympathy to Colorado's governor on behalf of the people of Hawaii and will be requesting that state flags fly at half-staff at a future date, probably on the day memorial services are held for the victims.

"Our hearts go out to the parents there and the people of Colorado," he said.

The governor noted that there are programs to keep track of gangs and at-risk students in Hawaii, but acknowledged it is a difficult task.

Cayetano had proposed in his State of the State address a school dedicated to helping troubled youths, but said there does not appear to be money for such a program.

"This is something we are working on," Cayetano said. "Next year, perhaps, we can do more."

Cayetano said he does not think Hawaii will need to install weapons detectors in the public schools. "I think if we allow it to get to that stage, then we would have been remiss in doing many things that we can do to support efforts to deal with our alienated youth," he said.

He credited Hawaii's gun control laws, among the nation's strictest, with helping to reduce the chances of school shootings.

The last major gun incident in public schools here occurred Sept. 21, when a SWAT team was called to Campbell High School after a 17-year-old student pointed a gun at students and a vice principal and barricaded himself in a portable. No shots were fired and the student surrendered peacefully to police.

Other incidents include:

Bullet Sept. 19, 1989: A gang-related shooting at Farrington High School left 18-year-old Edilberto Asuncion dead in the parking lot.
Bullet June 30, 1988: 17-year-old Romel Castro shot his Aiea High summer school teacher. The teacher lived but stopped teaching.
Bullet March 4, 1988: Four Kalihi youths drove to Campbell High and 17-year-old Roderick Aganos shot and slightly wounded a member of another youth gang just after classes let out.

What do you think?

Do you think something needs to be done to prevent a shooting at a Hawaii school? If so, what?

Bullet Call: 545-5867, or e-mail or fax to 531-6394 before 7 p.m. Hawaii time today.
Bullet Leave: A brief reason for your answer, your full name, telephone number and the area you live in. If you are a student or parent of a student, please say so. A reporter may call you back.

E-mail to City Desk

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