The Xerox building in the aftermath of the shootings
|Location||Honolulu, Hawaii, United States|
|Date||November 2, 1999
8:00 a.m. (HST)
|Mass murder, shooting|
|Weapons||Glock 17 handgun|
The Xerox murders was an incident of mass murder that occurred on November 2, 1999, in a Xerox building in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. Service technician Byran Koji Uyesugi shot at eight people; seven fatally (six co-workers and his supervisor) and one more fired upon during escape. This was the worst mass murder in the history of Hawaii.
At 8:00 in the morning, Byran Koji Uyesugi, a service technician working at Xerox, opened fire inside the building with a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol, killing his supervisor and six co-workers, and fired in the direction of another co-worker who fled the building. The eighth person was able to exit without any injuries. After the shooting, Uyesugi fled in a company van, and by mid-morning, he was found sitting in the van near the Hawaii Nature Center in Makiki, above downtown Honolulu. He then held a standoff with police that lasted for five hours, during which he calmly brandished a pistol, read magazines and smoked cigarettes. Adding to the tension of the standoff, the Hawaii Nature Center was hosting thirty-five local school children who were trapped inside without food or water. Uyesugi surrendered to police at approximately 3:00 p.m. HST.
- Jason Balatico, 33
- Ford Kanehira, 41
- Ronald Kataoka, 50
- Ronald Kawamae, 54
- Melvin Lee, 58
- Peter Mark, 46
- John Sakamoto, 36
Uyesugi's early life
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Uyesugi lived in the Nuuanu neighborhood of Honolulu. While attending Roosevelt High School, Uyesugi was a member of the school's Army JROTC chapter and was a member of the school's riflery team. Classmates remembered him as a quiet student who never got into trouble. According to his brother Dennis, Uyesugi crashed their father's car and hit his head on the windshield shortly after graduating high school in 1977 coming home from a graduation party and was never the same. He also had a daughter, born in 1996, who attended Queen Emma Preschool in Nuuanu Pali.
Uyesugi had been employed by Xerox as a technician since 1984. Among his hobbies was raising and breeding goldfish and koi, which he would sell to local pet stores. He also had an extensive collection of firearms, and at the time of the murders had as many as 25 guns registered in his name dating back to 1982. Police also recovered eleven handguns, five rifles and two shotguns from Uyesugi's father.
Troubles with his employer
According to testimony from Uyesugi's father, Hiroyuki, Uyesugi was normal until he started working for Xerox in 1984. In 1988, Byran started to complain that he had a poking sensation in his head.
Uyesugi's troubles apparently began soon after he was transferred to another workgroup. He began making unfounded accusations of harassment and product tampering against fellow repairmen, who had great difficulty placating his anger. Former co-workers who knew him reported the other members of his team allegedly ostracized him, making him feel isolated and withdrawn. His anger was such that he reportedly made threats against other co-workers' lives. In 1993, he was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation and anger management courses after he kicked in and damaged an elevator door. Uyesugi was arrested for third degree criminal property damage. Co-workers told Dr. Michael Welner, Chairman of The Forensic Panel and the forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Uyesugi prior to trial, that as early as 1995, Uyesugi was openly speaking of carrying out a mass shooting at the workplace were he ever to be fired. He also felt that his co-workers were engaged in patterns of harassment, back stabbing behavior, and spreading of rumors.
In the period leading up to the shootings, Xerox management had become increasingly committed to phasing out the type of photocopier that Uyesugi had been accustomed to servicing. He resisted learning the replacement machine, fearing that he could not keep up with its technical demands. After working around his refusal to train on the new machine, Uyesugi’s manager insisted on November 1, 1999 that he would begin training the next day. In his interview with Dr. Michael Welner, who examined Uyesugi when the defendant brought an insanity defense, Uyesugi reasoned that because he would refuse to undertake the training, management would then fire him. As he told Dr. Welner, “I decided to give them a reason to fire me.”
Trial and incarceration
Forty-year-old Byran Uyesugi's month-long trial began on May 15, 2000. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and claimed that he felt like an outcast at work and that he feared his colleagues were conspiring to have him fired. Dr. Park Dietz and Dr. Daryl Matthews testified for the defense that he was insane, citing the delusions about how others were tampering with his fish. Lead prosecution expert witness Dr. Harold Hall testified that the Defendant fulfilled the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, but he did not meet the criteria for either insanity or extreme emotion or mental disturbance (EMED). Dr. Michael Welner testified for the prosecution that although Mr. Uyesugi was in his opinion a schizophrenic, he carried out the shooting because he was angry that he would be fired for insubordination, and that his own account of concealment before the crime demonstrated that he knew what he had done was wrong.
The jury rejected his insanity defense and found him guilty of seven murders and one attempted murder. He received a sentence of life without chance of parole. Hawaii does not have the death penalty.
He appealed his conviction. In 2002, the State of Hawaii Supreme Court upheld Uyesugi's conviction. In 2004, Uyesugi was considering fighting his conviction based on Rule 40, inadequate representation by his lawyers in his first trial.
In 2005, Xerox and the hospital that examined Uyesugi settled a lawsuit brought by the families of the shooting victims, who felt that both had ignored clear signs of Uyesugi's mental instability.
As a result of the shooting, a new state law was passed that requires doctors to reveal information about the mental state of potential gun owners.
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