Hawaii worker who sent missile alert was '100% sure' attack was real

Aaron Brown
February 4, 2018

For the first time since the widespread panic sparked by that false missile warning that went out across Hawaii, the former emergency management employee who sent out the alert publicly explaining his respective on how it happened.

The former state employee responsible for sending out the emergency ballistic missile alert that froze the state of Hawaii for 38 minutes last month said that he felt awful about what happened.

"The panic, the stress people felt, all the hurt and pain". It was just a body blow for me.

The man's superiors said they knew for years that he had problems performing his job.

"I'm really not to blame for this, it was a system failure and I did what I was trained to do", he told NBC News. He mistakenly sent out a warning of an impending missile attack.

His supervisors counseled him but kept him for a decade in a position that had to be renewed each year, authorities said.

The man blamed the incident on a variety of factors - it was shift change, he and others lacked training, the drill was unannounced - for the alert that wasn't corrected for 38 minutes.

"When the phone call came in, someone picked up the receiver instead of hitting speaker phone so that everyone could hear the message", he said. The man said he did not hear the beginning of the message that said "exercise, exercise, exercise".

Speaking on condition on anonymity from his lawyer's office, the man said he now realizes he mistook a routine drill for an attack. The supervisor played a simulated missile notice that mimicked an actual message from the USA military's Pacific Command and warned worker of the fake threat.

The incident occurred when a supervisor made a decision to give the arriving day-shift workers a spontaneous drill, according to a Federal Communications Commission report.

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'There was no requirement in place for a warning officer to double check with a colleague or get sign off from a supervisor before sending such an alert, ' the report said.

"The protocols were not in place".

He said he empathizes with the families impacted and said he hasn't been able to sleep or eat very well.

The administrator and executive officer of the states's Emergency Management Agency stepped down last Tuesday, after the report on its failures was released. The state did not name him.

Another employee was being suspended without pay, officials said.

"The death threats that have been coming into the agency and they were notifying me of those, I've been very anxious about my safety and the safety of my family", the former HI-EMA employee said.

However, the former state worker said those two previous incidents were essentially "paperwork" issues, not errant alerts.

Officials said the man refused to cooperate with state or federal investigations beyond providing a written statement.

The employee "had a history of confusing drill and real-world events", Oliveira said.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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