Button pusher: "I thought it was real"
The man who infamously pushed the button alerting Hawaii of a false missile headed toward the state spoke out Friday.
A former state employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency was fired for triggering the false alarm missile warning.
His attorney Michael Green says they decided to speak with the media Friday.
His client wanted a chance to give the public a first-hand account of what happened that Saturday morning back on January 13 right before the false alert went out.
They claim the reports up until now have had inaccuracies and have left out key details from the event.
Because that man is still getting death threats, they've asked us to protect his identity by blurring his face.
"Reading the newspapers and seeing the false information out there, it's very hurtful and I feel a lot of guilt from what has happened," the former HI-EMA employee said.
The man known as the "button pusher" says he thought Hawaii was in danger.
"I was 100 percent sure that it was real and I did what I was trained to do," he said.
That statement lines up with what State officials have told the media.
What's not adding up is what happened one minute before the false alert went out.
HI-EMA's investigation states the drill alert was called in to employees at 8:06 a.m. that Saturday and the words "exercise exercise exercise" were announced "loud and clear" over the telephone speaker.
The former HI-EMA employee says that statement is inaccurate.
"The protocol is that the person answering the call presses the speaker phone button so everyone in office can hear the message. That didn't happen. Someone lifted the reciever so the beginning of the message was not able to be heard," he said.
According to the former employee, that's why he thought it was real situation. He went on to say another one of his co-workers thought the same.
He says the first words he heard on the loud speaker was "This is not a drill".
A minute later, he sent the false alert out and that same day - death threats started coming in.
"The death threats that have been coming into the agency and they were notifying me of those, I've been very worried about my safety and the safety of my family," the former HI-EMA employee said.
The button pusher say he's been dealing with the fallout and calls it an utter hell - causing him problems with eating, sleeping and is now on medication.
He hopes what the public experienced will never happen again.
"I really do empathise with what I put them through, I just regret that this happened," he said.
The man also told Island News he believes changes at HI-EMA are needed.
He's says the system there has problems including lack of training for employees over missile notification drills - problems with equipment as well as poorly followed procedures.
His attorney Michael Green says they've not made a decision on suing the state.
The man worked at HI-EMA for 11.5 years and wants to stay in Hawaii.