Hawaii lava evacuee recounts neighborhood shooting
By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
The Associated Press
HONOLULU — A woman who evacuated her Hawaii home because of the erupting Kilauea volcano said Thursday she filmed an angry neighbor shooting at a man near a lava flow.
Patty Jones told The Associated Press she started recording cellphone video after the man stormed out of his pickup truck and accosted another neighbor last week, believing the man didn’t belong there. Her video shows the first man firing over the other man’s head. The first man pointed the gun at the second, who was screaming, “I live here.”
John Hubbard is charged with reckless engendering, terroristic threatening and other charges in state court. U.S. prosecutors have also charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Tensions have been running high over looting fears in Leilani Estates, where lava has been flowing since early May in a mostly rural district of the Big Island.
Lava has destroyed more than 600 homes, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim told reporters Thursday.
Jones evacuated her home on May 3 when the first of a series of fissures opened up in her neighborhood. She has been sleeping at a shelter and returns when evacuees are allowed to enter the subdivision during the day if conditions are safe. May 29 was one of the days she returned to check on her home and went to look at a nearby flow that had hardened but was still warm.
The man parked his truck behind her and stomped out, she said. “I just assumed he was somebody coming to look at the lava like everybody else,” she said.
“When he pulled out his gun, there was nothing I could do,” she said, adding that she never expected anyone to have a weapon. “I wasn’t even expecting the attitude he came on with.”
The man demanded to know where Jones and the other man live. They all live in Leilani Estates, but didn’t know each other prior to the shooting. Jones said her home is still standing, but she believes Hubbard’s house burned down that day.
The man Hubbard allegedly pointed his gun at did nothing to provoke the shooting, Jones said.
“Everyone is always so cordial and helpful with one another,” she said. “For this guy to come on with such an aggressive attitude was really a surprise to me.”
Hubbard appeared in state court on the Big Island Thursday. State Public Defender Jack Tonaki, whose office is representing him, said it’s too early to comment.
Ethan Edwards, identified in court documents as the victim, told The Associated Press in a Facebook message that he was headed to Hubbard’s preliminary hearing. According to court minutes online, Edwards testified at Hubbard’s preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to continue June 22.
“Our hearts go out to the people in Puna,” said Mitch Roth, the Big Island’s top prosecutor. “A lot of people are going through a lot of stress.”
Roth’s office is prosecuting a looting case, a robbery case and several cases of people forcing their way through blocked areas during the lava ordeal.