Man Behind False Missile Alert Explains What Happened

"It was incredibly hard for me, very emotional", he said, adding that his team was immediately flooded with phone calls from frantic citizens.

The man known as the "button pusher" says he thought Hawaii was in danger.

The employee who sent out a false missile alert in Hawaii earlier this month said he honestly thought the island was under alert.

"I heard the part, 'this is not a drill",' he said. It was a system failure.

"I was 100% sure that it was the right decision, that it was real", the warrant officer, who maintained his anonymity, told "NBC Nightly News" Friday. But he added that he himself had been having a "very difficult" time in the wake of the incident, including getting death threats.

"I feel very badly for what's happened - the panic, the stress people felt, all the hurt and pain".

"I feel pretty guilty and devastated the last couple of weeks". "The last few weeks and it's been very hard".

He added that he thinks the "military should handle this job - missile notifications for Hawaii".


"The protocol is that the person answering the call presses the speaker phone button so everyone in office can hear the message. No one said drill or exercise or any words to that effect", he said. Five other workers at the station heard the "exercise" phrase at the start and end of the message, said Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi, director of joint staff with the Hawaii National Guard, as interim agency administrator.

Following procedures, the man activated the missile launch alert from a drop-down computer menu and clicked "yes" when the system asked him "Are you sure that you want to send this alert?"

As soon as he realized his error, the man says he 'just wanted to crawl under a rock'.

The Jan. 13 alert was sent out to over 1 million people via cell phones and caused a mass hysteria among the locals, who already feared a nuclear attack by North Korea, thanks to the hate-mongering rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

The alert created widespread panic, and a follow-up alert wasn't sent until 38 minutes later: "There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii". He said he saw a doctor for sleep issues.

A recorded Pacific Command message was played over loudspeakers at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency that began 'exercise, exercise, exercise, ' then warned of an incoming ballistic missile and said, 'This is not a drill'.

This story has been corrected to say a co-worker took the call, not the man who sent the alert.

A preliminary federal report found at least two previous incidents in 10 years with that employee during which he confused a drill with a real-world situation, officials said Tuesday. In the weeks since the January 13 incident, the worker said he has received death threats, with his lawyer adding that they are still deciding whether or not to sue the state.


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