Pearl Harbor shooting: US sailor kills two civilians and injures third at military base

Guardian staff and agencies
Photograph: Caleb Jones/AP

A US sailor opened fire at the historic military base in Pearl Harbor on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said, killing two civilian workers and injuring a third before taking his own life.

The incident took place at the naval shipyard, just days before thousands were scheduled to gather at the storied military base to mark the 78th anniversary of the Japanese bombing that launched the US into the second world war.

The shooter was identified on Thursday as 22-year-old G Romero, according to a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details that had not been made public.

The names of the victims were not yet released. Rear Adm Robert Chadwick, the commander of Navy Region Hawaii, said he did not know the motive behind the attack, nor was it known if the sailor and the three male civilians had any type of relationship.

“We have no indication yet whether they were targeted or if it was a random shooting,” Chadwick said.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone involved. I can say that we are mobilizing support services for naval shipyard personnel as well as everyone else who may be affected by this tragic event,” Chadwick added.

Security forces and Honolulu firefighters responded to reports of a shooting at the shipyard around 2.30pm local time on Wednesday. The incident took place at the vicinity of the shipyard’s Dry Dock 2.

The base was placed on lockdown for part of the afternoon, and photos showed long lines of cars headed for the gates of the base.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on the Hawaiian island of Oahu is home to both the US navy and US air force.

The shipyard repairs, maintains and modernizes the ships and submarines of the US Pacific fleet, which is headquartered at Pearl Harbor. It is the home port for 10 destroyers and 15 submarines.

The shipyard is across the harbor from the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Chadwick said the service would evaluate whether security would need to be upgraded ahead of the annual ceremony this weekend. About a dozen survivors of the 1941 bombing were expected to attend, along with dignitaries and service members.

Mass shootings and gun violence are rare in Hawaii. In 1999, a Xerox service technician fatally shot seven co-workers. In 2006, a man fatally shot his taxi driver and a couple taking photos of the city lights from a lookout point in the hills above Honolulu.

Hawaii had the lowest gun death rate among the states in 2017, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The islands have strict firearms laws, including a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.