Button pusher: "I thought it was real"

The Man Who Sent The False Hawaii Missile Alert Said He's Not To Blame

Emergency workers sent a clarifying push alert about 40 minutes after the initial alert, sent around 8 a.m. local time. People on the islands were sent into panic, many believing they had minutes left to contact loved ones and most without any sense of where to shelter from a possible nuclear strike.

The former state employee - a man in his 50s who asked to remain anonymous for his safety - said that he was "100 percent sure" that the drill on January 13 was real, even though several other employees heard the word "exercise" repeated throughout the message, according to officials.

Granting his first interviews since the scary January 13 debacle, the employee said his decision to push a panic button that alerted Hawaiians of an impending attack was no accident - he really believed it.

"It was incredibly hard for me, very emotional", the man told NBC.

He added: "I feel very badly for what's happened - the panic, the stress people felt, all the hurt and pain". He told CNN on Friday that he feels bad about what happened, but he did what he was trained to do. It was just a body blow for me. As soon as he realized his error, he "just wanted to crawl under a rock".

But the emergency worker, who has been fired, claims he "didn't hear "exercise" at all in that whole transmission".

An investigation released by the state described the employee as having a poor work history; other members of its staff said they did not feel comfortable with his work.

Scared citizens called his colleagues, he said.

His supervisors counseled him but kept him for a decade in a position that had to be renewed each year, authorities said. The ex-worker disputed that, saying he wasn't aware of any performance problems.

He somehow overlooked the words "exercise, exercise, exercise" at the start of the drill.

"I heard, 'This is not a drill.'". "I don't hear the beginning of the message coming across because what we're supposed to do is hit speakerphone on the line so everyone can hear the message".

Oliveira's findings echoed an Federal Communications Commission report issued Tuesday. He mistakenly sent out a warning of an impending missile attack.

"The protocols were not in place". But the former employee says he never heard that. Officials revealed that the employee who sent the alert was sacked on 26 January.

The agency's executive officer, Toby Clairmont, said on Wednesday he stepped down because it was clear action would be taken against agency leaders after the alert. The agency's top official, Vern Miyagi, has since resigned. The former employee blames what happened on a failure of the system that cost him his job of more than 11 years and led to death threats insisting he is not to blame.

Later, when asked what he would have changed about that morning, the man added, "I can't say that I would do anything differently based on what I saw and heard".

A Hawaii state department of defense spokesman, Lt Col Charles Anthony, declined to comment on what the former worker said. He said he was not trying to impede any investigations: "There really wasn't anything else to say".

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