LIHUE >> Criminal charges against a 24-year-old Kauai man arrested for allegedly firing shots at Lihue Airport last night are on hold while he undergoes a psychological evaluation, a prosecutor said today.
The suspect, of Kapaa, was arrested for investigation of reckless endangerment after allegedly bolting past a security station into a boarding area, ordering passengers to get away from the gate and then threatening to kill himself. He allegedly fired two shots during the incident. No one was injured.
"It looks like one bullet went into the floor and the other into the ceiling," said state Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
About 200 people were evacuated from the airport, which was closed for about an hour after the shooting occurred about 6 p.m., said Ishikawa.
Kauai County prosecutor Michael Soong said this morning that criminal charges against the man are on hold while he undergoes a psychological evaluation.
Ishikawa said a TSA guard at the baggage claim area tried to stop the man but the man said he had a gun and no one could stop him. Initial reports indicate that all TSA officers posted at the baggage claim area were unarmed because it is not considered a secured area, he said.
"All of our armed officers are posted at the check-in points," he said, "but we may have to re-evaluate that now."
According to county spokeswoman Cyndi Ozaki, the man entered the airport through the Hawaiian Airlines baggage claim area on the north end of the terminal and fired at least one shot. The second shot was fired in the terminal between Gates 5 and 6, Ishikawa said. The first shot hit the ceiling and the second the floor.
According to a county press release, the man then went through a door and down a short hall leading to the Hawaiian Airlines gates. A security guard is usually stationed in the hallway, but it was unknown whether a guard was there.
The man went to a gate where passengers were waiting to board an airliner bound for Honolulu and told the passengers to get out of the area. There are usually several federal TSA guards in the boarding area.
The TSA, created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has had the primary responsibility for security inside the airport since last year.
After the passengers left the gate, the man sat down in a chair and put the gun to his head, threatening to kill himself. A Kauai police detective called to the scene talked the man out of it, Ozaki said.
She said the man did not confront anyone at the airport, and police told her he did not appear to be looking for anyone in the terminal.
The TSA also shut down Gates 5 and 6 last night as investigators gathered evidence, forcing Hawaiian and Aloha airlines to share gates. Although no flights were canceled because of the incident, Ishikawa said Hawaiian Airlines Flights 552 and 376 were delayed for an hour and 40 minutes, respectively.
An Aloha Airlines flight about to depart from the opposite end of the terminal offered its empty seats to Hawaiian passengers who were in a hurry to get to Honolulu to make flight connections, Ozaki said.