The agency that mistakenly sent a ballistic missile alert to thousands of cellphones in Hawaii is now receiving death threats from angry residents.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) has gotten the threatening calls through a public line since it sent the state into panic over a false alarm.
“We understand that members of our community are angry about Saturday’s false alarm, and we are looking at these messages as individuals blowing off steam,” a HIEMA spokesman told the local CBS affiliate KGMB. “While we take any threat against our personnel seriously, we are doing our best not to escalate the situation.”
Residents were still seething more than a day after a cellphone alert reading “This is not a drill.”
Recordings of 911 calls from the incident show police may have known within minutes the message was a mistake.
“They probably made an error in their testing,” a dispatcher told one officer in the recordings obtained by Bay Area News Group. “And we’ll just have to relay this to everybody.”
A dispatcher on the Island of Hawaii signaled for cops to use the speakers in their patrol cars to let people know a threat wasn’t imminent.
“We don’t want everybody panicking,” the dispatcher reportedly said.
Roughly 1 million people bid farewell to loved ones, prepared children for the worst or took shelter for almost 40 minutes Saturday — only to find out someone pressed the wrong button.
The worker in question, who’s been with HIEMA for a decade, was reassigned after the incident, officials said.
The unidentified employee clicked the ballistic missile alert instead of an option intended to start a new shift. He didn’t realize his mistake until he too got the erroneous missile warning.
The false alarm sparked panic in Honolulu and other major parts of the state.
The panic left some people in frightful positions.
One man claims he was turned away from a Walmart on Oahu where he tried to take cover.
“It’s pretty appalling that kind of behavior,” Dean Sensui told KGMB. “Here’s a community that supports the store and then turns their back on them when they need them the most. What kind of conscience is that? Who does something like that?”
East Honolulu resident and social worker Lisa Foxen wasn’t completely sure what to do in such a situation.
“I kind of was just almost like a deer in headlights,” Foxen, a mother of two, told The Associated Press. “I knew what to do in a hurricane. I knew what to do in an earthquake. But the missile thing is new to me.”
President Trump said federal officials will “get involved,” but didn’t elaborate on how.
And although officials say it was an honest mistake, Federal Communications Commission Chief Ajit Pai condemned the error on Sunday as “absolutely unacceptable.”
The false alarm indeed left some Hawaiians fuming at the mistake, leaving them to second guess new warnings.
“My confidence in our so-called leaders’ ability to disseminate this vital information has certainly been tarnished,” resident Patrick Day told the AP.
With News Wire Services