Students arrested in Pahoa

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Police arrested five juveniles following a series of campus fights at Pahoa High and Intermediate School.

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Police arrested five juveniles following a series of campus fights at Pahoa High and Intermediate School.

Officers arrested two boys, 15 and 16, and two girls, 13 and 12, for disorderly conduct Thursday morning, and a 15-year-old boy Wednesday for misdemeanor assault.

All were charged and will appear in Family Court, Puna Patrol Sgt. Brandon Konanui said Thursday afternoon.

The campus melees apparently started Tuesday after school, according to Konanui, and the motives were unclear.

“As far as the first day, the people that were involved, they basically came on campus, fought, and then left. They were all students, though,” he said. “By the time we got there, the fight was all broken up and everybody had left. Meanwhile, the (school) staff was doing their own investigation, trying to figure out what happened.

“The next day, there were other altercations between students. Then (Thursday), we had our officers come in first thing this morning and — boom — there was another fight.”

There have been unconfirmed reports that videos of some of the fights have been posted on social media.

“I heard that there are, but I personally haven’t seen any yet,” Konanui said regarding the videos.

The reported altercation on Wednesday involved three suspects, the 15-year-old boy arrested for assault, plus an 18-year-old adult male and a 13-year-old boy, who allegedly attacked another 13-year-old boy.

No one was seriously hurt, but the fights have resulted in campus lockdowns, and Konanui said school officials expect the skirmishes to continue.

“It’s happening so often now, the school’s now taking the stance there’s no fighting on campus,” Konanui said.

“The school has to make a stand, as well, because it’s not just two kids fighting. The other kids see it and are getting involved. And it creates a volatile situation, kind of like a riot, but not that bad. If kids are caught fighting now in the school, they’re now getting arrested for disorderly conduct, where the school is the complainant, as opposed to one student making a complaint against another student because they’re fighting.”

Konanui said the youths arrested are “good kids making bad choices.”

“Right now, we’re having officers going over to the school during the morning hours, showing a little more presence,” he said.

“Our community policing officers and school resource officers are already there. We’re hoping to deter the kids (from fighting). It’s good for us to be over there interacting with the kids as well.

“Our community officers and school resource officers are working to create good relationships with the kids, so they know we’re not just there to pick on them. We’re there to help them.”

State Department of Education spokeswoman Lindsey Chambers said Thursday in an email the campus went into lockdown “as a precaution … on separate occasions” between Tuesday and Thursday.

“This is a proactive measure when incidents occur, which helps to make the situation manageable and safer for students, teachers and faculty,” she wrote.

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“The safety of our students is of utmost concern and the school is in contact with multiple agencies including the Hawaii County Police Department, Department of Human Services and Child Welfare Services to discuss these incidents. There continues to be a visible police presence on campus, which has been helpful.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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