The search for two escapees from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility continues Friday.
According to police, the two 17-year-olds escaped at about 9:45 a.m. Thursday. The Dept. of Human Services says the youth ran during school while participating in a vocational education class at the maintenance shop outside the walls of the facility.
Honolulu police say a proactive search was initiated after an officer reported unconfirmed sightings of the juveniles in the area Thursday night. Police do not believe they are armed.
According to DHS, both escapees are short-term commitments (five months and 10 months respectively). The department says although both youth have a robbery charge, their overall risk to public safety is not considered high. Neither one had demonstrated a propensity towards violence while at the facility, and neither has a history of assault charges.
One youth has a pending escape charge when he ran from a doctor’s appointment.
When asked why the department did not notify the public on Thursday when the escape occurred, DHS said it “followed reporting protocol by notifying local law enforcement.”
According to the Dept. of Education, Olomana and Maunawili Elementary School were closed Friday due to the ongoing search. Both had gone into lockdown shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday after the escapes were reported to authorities.
“For the safety of everyone – our students, our teachers, our staff and parents, we decided to close the schools,” Kailua-Kalaheo complex area superintendent Suzanne Mulcahy said. “Our schools continue to cooperate with the Honolulu Police Department and our staff remains on alert.”
As of 8:20 a.m., Kailua High School was placed on perimeter lockdown.
“Yesterday, there was a lockdown once the escapee incident occurred,” said DOE spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz. “Our main concern is the security and the safety of the students… There are a lot of unknowns in this situation.”
Hawaii Pacific University’s Hawaii Loa Campus in Kaneohe resumed classes and activities at 11 a.m. Friday. “Campus security is in continuing contact with local law enforcement officials,” the school said in a statement. “The suspects are reported to no longer to be in the vicinity.”
Le Jardin Academy decided to open Friday after a thorough search of the entire main campus and surrounding areas. School officials say additional security personnel was hired for the day as a safety precaution.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police.
Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility currently houses 38 youth, including the two runaways. Fifteen other kids are committed but on parole.
DHS says this is first escape of the year. In 2013, there were four escapes. All occurred when the youth were outside the facility.