As fast-moving lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano threatens to swallow a number of homes, leaving evacuated residents unsure how long they might be displaced – tensions are also rising in the state’s Big Island.
According to a local news outlet, a Hawaiian man pulled a gun on an evacuee who returned to the area to check on his home which had been consumed by the magma.
The victim, 32-year-old Ethan Edwards, told police he was visiting his lava-destroyed home in Leilani Estates with his friends when he was approached by a man in a pickup truck.
Edwards posted a video of the heated confrontation between him and the gun owner, identified as John Hubbard, on Facebook, which showed a white-haired man aiming a gun at him.
Hubbard, who also lived in the same estate, could be heard screaming in the video, ordering Edwards and his friends to leave the area.
“Get the f*** out of here,” yelled the 61-year-old man while Edward backed away with his hands up in the air, screaming “I live here!” repeatedly.
The situation got uglier when Hubbard, who got all riled up for apparently no good reason, pushed his neighbor, fired shots at the sky and then again aimed the gun at Edwards.
“Are you kidding me? Stop!” people can be heard yelling in the background.
Fortunately, no one was injured by the gunfire. However, the victim did incur few non-life-threatening injuries.
Nevertheless, Edward expressed his relieve in his post upon surviving the unprovoked attack.
"Happy to be alive," he wrote in the caption. "This situation is really beginning to take its toll psychologically and the bad weather is contributing to emotional tensions."
Hawaii Police Department reportedly arrested the 61-year-old man on multiple counts –including first-degree terroristic threatening, first-degree reckless endangering, first-degree robbery, failure to register a firearm and failure to obtain a gun permit.
"We're going to treat all of the offenses that happened in this area to the fullest extent of the law," said Big Island prosecutor Mitch Roth. "There's people whose lives have been devastated because they've lost their homes, they've lost their livelihoods."
The state’s civil defense authorities also took notice of the matter and attributed such incidents to escalating tensions in the area.
"They've got this live volcano in their backyard," said Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. "They feel like, they see strange people in their subdivision, whether it's people just wanted to go see lava or criminals ... and they try to protect stuff. I could see it coming, I know it's something that happens in a lot of disasters, whether it's in the shelters or in the communities. A lot of stress, a lot of things are going on there."
Ever since the Kilauea volcano began spewing fountains of lava into residential areas, around 2,000 people were asked to leave their houses and 75 homes were destroyed. However, some of the residents chose to stay behind to protect their possessions from looters.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS / Marco Garcia