On an island known for its lack of violent crime, a copier repairman walked into a Xerox Corp. facility here today and shot seven co-workers to death with a 9mm handgun, authorities said.
Police captured the assailant, whom they identified as Byran K. Uyesugi, 40, at 2:50 p.m. (7:50 p.m. EST), about seven hours after the shootings.
It was the latest in a string of workplace shootings in recent months. In late July a day trader killed nine people and wounded 13 at two securities firms in Atlanta. A week later in Pelham, Ala., a disgruntled employee killed two co-workers, then killed a person at a company where he used to work.
Homicide is the second-leading cause of workplace death after accidents, but last year the government said such killings were at a seven-year low.
Uyesugi fled the scene in a company van and after a two-hour manhunt was found sitting in the vehicle near the Hawaii Nature Center in a hillside neighborhood. About 60 schoolchildren were hiking there, but police quickly cordoned off the area and moved the students to higher ground. About 10 homes were evacuated.
Uyesugi was surrounded by a SWAT unit, which began negotiating with him. At times he walked back and forth outside the van. Police spent hours speaking to him by bullhorn and then cell phone. They brought his brother to the scene to plead with him to turn himself in.
Police said Uyesugi got out of the driver's side of the van, walked to the back of it with his hands in the air and fell to the ground. Then the SWAT personnel rushed him; no shots were fired. Police said his brother, Dennis, was crucial to the negotiations.
Uyesugi, a 15-year Xerox employee, worked in the technical support division. Xerox said he was employed as a repairman, fixing copiers and other business equipment.
The suspect's father, Hiro Uyesugi, told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that he saw his son this morning and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. "He must have got fired," the father said. "I don't know. He never said anything this morning."
Police would not comment on a motive.
According to paramedics first on the scene, the gunman shot five men, all Xerox employees, as they sat down in a second-story conference room for an early morning meeting. Two more male employees were shot in a nearby room. All were found dead in the building in an industrial neighborhood of Honolulu.
They were identified as Melvin Lee, 58; Ron Kawamae, 54; Ron Kataoka, 50; Peter Mark, 46; Ford Kanehira, 41; John Sakamoto, 36; and Jason Balatico, 33.
"It sounded like he was unloading his gun. It wasn't a single shot," said Dale Ajifu, a Xerox technician, who had just arrived at the building and was downstairs in the warehouse when he heard the shots. "I think I might have seen the guy."
Christine Conn was standing outside the building after the shootings. She said her neighbor had gone inside beforehand to see her son, who works there. "I'm praying to God she's not in there and her son's not one of the victims," Conn told the Star-Bulletin.
Xerox Chairman G. Richard Thoman called the shootings tragic and said, "Our foremost concern is for the safety and security of our employees and for the comfort of the families of the victims."
Police gathered 9mm shell casings from the scene and authorities said they found 18 weapons--11 handguns, 5 rifles and 2 shotguns--at Uyesugi's home. He had been a member of his high school's competitive shooting team.
Police Sgt. John Kamai said Uyesugi was turned down for a firearms permit in 1994 following an arrest for criminal property damage after an argument with co-workers at Xerox.
At the standoff at the Hawaii Nature Center, Honolulu police Lt. Debbie Tandal said, police officers did not know how many weapons Uyesugi had with him.
The shooting stunned many Hawaiians, who are used to hearing about such incidents on the mainland but pride themselves in having a relatively violence-free environment.
"We live in the safest city in the United States," said Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris. "It's a shock for all of us. . . . To have someone snap like this . . . is just absolutely appalling."
Harris said that on the island of Oahu, with more than 800,000 residents, there were 17 homicides last year. In Washington, which has about 543,000 residents, there were 260 homicides.
Newscasters almost immediately began referring to the episode as violence that marred "paradise."
The shootings at the Xerox facility occurred along Nimitz Highway about two miles from Honolulu International Airport--several miles from downtown and the tourist magnet of Waikiki Beach.
After the killings, police sealed off another Xerox facility, a central office downtown, apparently fearful that the gunman might head there. Xerox, which has more than 90,000 employees worldwide, has nearly 150 in Hawaii.
Special correspondent Arnett reported from Honolulu; staff writer Booth contributed from Los Angeles. Research editor Margot Williams in Washington contributed to this report.