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Man pleads guilty in shooting in lava evacuation zone

KAILUA-KONA — A Big Island man who fired a gun during an encounter with lava evacuees during the Kilauea volcano eruption last year has pleaded guilty to felony charges.

John Hubbard pleaded guilty Friday in state court to five counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, stemming from the May 2018 confrontation in the Leilani Estates neighborhood — a mandatory evacuation zone, West Hawaii Today reported .

Hubbard also pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last week to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In exchange for Hubbard’s plea Friday, Big Island prosecutors dismissed other charges against him — including robbery, reckless endangering and carrying a firearm in commission of a separate felony.

“I’m here to take responsibility for what I did,” Hubbard said in court.

A cellphone video captured the encounter in Leilani Estates, where lava flowed and forced residents to flee following the early May eruption. It appeared to show Hubbard threatening people and firing multiple gunshots.

Ethan Edwards had testified last year that Hubbard had demanded the group identify themselves and leave. He said in court that an argument ensued, and Hubbard pointed the gun at him and fired shots into the air.

Hubbard admitted he possessed a revolver at the time, according to federal court documents. He claimed the gun was later destroyed in the lava flow.

Hubbard is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on June 17.

U.S. prosecutors have agreed to recommend for his sentence to be served concurrently with the state sentence.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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