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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - An in-depth investigation into the December 2019 shooting at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility was not able to determine what caused a Sailor to shoot three civilian workers, killing two, before turning the gun on himself.
The investigation, released by the Navy today, did identify probable emotional and social factors that may have contributed to Machinist’s Mate (Auxiliary) Fireman Gabriel A. Romero’s state of mental health at the time of the shooting. It also determined that the 22-year-old San Antonio, Texas, native who was assigned to the Los Angeles-class, fast-attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771), acted alone and that no one could have reasonably predicted that Romero would have engaged in the act of murder and suicide.
The investigator’s primary objective was to examine all contributing factors and to conduct a self-assessment of the Navy as a learning-organization. They were tasked with identifying additional actions the Navy can take to recognize early warning signs to reduce risks associated with personal stress and mental health to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future.
“This tragic event was heartbreaking to our community and our valued shipyard workforce, and we must work hard to restore confidence in the Navy’s ability to protect our most valuable assets – our people,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The extensive investigation assessed Romero’s personal and professional background; the command climate aboard USS Columbia; force protection and emergency response management; active shooter training; significant impacts to shipyard personnel and workplace safety; and armed watch stander qualifications, among other things.
The investigators identified communication barriers between health care professionals and Navy leadership by placing undue emphasis on patient confidentiality, particularly where Sailors may have access to weapons.
The investigation also identified additional recommendations and administrative actions that the Navy may take to prevent incidents such as this from happening in the future. These issues will be addressed by a special working group, organized by the Navy’s Security Coordination Board (SCB).
The SCB is the senior-level governance body for the integration and policy coordination of the Navy Security Enterprise and will implement findings and recommendations from the investigation to make the Navy safer and more secure. It serves as a forum for stakeholders who are responsible for coordinating cross-functional Navy security issues. As the Navy’s cross-functional team for security issues, the working group will also provide recommendations on key policy issues regarding best security practices and standardization.
A redacted version of the investigation can be found at the Navy’s Freedom of Information Act reading library at www.secnav.navy.mil/foia/readingroom/SitePages/Home.aspx.