IAF chief RKS Bhadauria safe after Pearl Harbor shooting incident
Two victims have died after the shooting at the base, reports said. A third victim is in stable condition after being hospitalised while the shooter, a US navy sailor, also died from “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound”, they added.Updated: Dec 05, 2019 13:32 IST
New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria was attending a conference at the historic Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam in US Pacific Ocean state of Hawaii when an American Navy sailor shot and killed two people there before fatally shooting himself on Wednesday.
Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesman Group Captain Anupam Banerjee said that Bhadauria and his team are safe.
Bhadauria is staying at the US air force base in Pearl Harbour and the shooting took place at the naval part of the joint base. The two areas “are not close to each other”, news agency Press Trust of Indian quoted an unnamed official as saying.
The airbase was put under lockdown for two hours after the shooting incident at the naval base. “The [shooting] incident was at the nearby naval base. However, security was increased as a precautionary measure for some time,” an IAF officer said on condition of anonymity.
Pearl Harbour Naval Station and Hickam Air Force Base were merged to form Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam in January 2010. The joint base is located 13 km from Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu.
According to a 2010 Associated Press report, a chain-link fence divides the air and naval bases and in 1975, the US Navy even built a sentry post from where guards screened those crossing between them. A part of the fence was taken down in a symbolic ceremony when the two bases merged.
Pearl Harbour remains etched in American national memory since Japanese planes destroyed US bombers at the base during an aerial attack in 1941. The attack prompted the US to declare war on Japan and to enter World War II. The shooting incident came three days before the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack.
Bhadauria is at the US base to attend the conference of the air chiefs of 20 Pacific Ocean littoral countries to discuss the security situation in the Indo-Pacific region.
In a statement, the IAF said that the conference is intended to further strengthen the existing cooperation between the Air Forces of the participating countries and also to pave the way for enhanced interaction in the future.
Issues like regional security, domain awareness, multi-domain awareness, interoperability are on the agenda of the conference, where “common challenges faced” and “mutual interests” were being discussed.
US Navy spokesman Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick said that one person wounded in the shooting is in stable condition in a local hospital. “I can also report that the shooter, who has tentatively been identified as an active-duty sailor assigned to USS Columbia SSN 771, is also deceased by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
In a tweet, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam earlier said that the three victims were all civilians working for the US Department of Defense.
News agency Reuters quoted an unnamed witness telling Hawaii News Now in an on-air interview that he had heard gunfire near Drydock 2 at the base and looked up from his desk to see the gunman put a gun to his head and shoot himself. The gunman was wearing a US Navy uniform, the witness added.