Hawaii's false missile threat: Worker who pushed wrong button to be reassigned

The civil defense employee who pushed the wrong button, causing more than a million people in Hawaii to fear that they were about to be struck by a nuclear missile Saturday, will be reassigned, emergency officials confirmed on Sunday.

A spokesman with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency confirmed to Fox News, “The employee who issued the alert has been temporarily reassigned pending the outcome of our internal investigation. He will still report to work within our Emergency Operations Center, but in a different capacity that does not provide access to the warning system.”

Residents and tourists alike were rattled after the mistaken alert was blasted out to cellphones across the islands with a warning to seek immediate shelter and the ominous statement, “This is not a drill.”

State officials later said the unnamed employee doing a routine test during a shift change at the Emergency Management Agency mistakenly hit the live alert button.

Rather than triggering a test of the system, it went into actual event mode, Fox News previously reported. Vern Miyagi, who oversees the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said at a news conference late Saturday that to trigger the alert, there is a two-step process involving only one employee — who both triggers the alarm, then also confirms it.

“There is a screen that says, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’” Miyagi said. The employee confirmed the alert, inadvertently causing a panic in a state already on edge over saber-rattling missile threats from North Korea. 

Miyagi, a retired Army major general, said about the employee late Saturday: “This guy feels bad, right. He’s not doing this on purpose — it was a mistake on his part and he feels terrible about it.”

President Donald Trump said Sunday afternoon that the federal government will “get involved” with Hawaii following the false alarm on the island state.

Trump said what happened Saturday “was a state thing.” He did not describe the level of federal involvement he envisions, but the Federal Communications Commission has opened an investigation.

Hawaii’s governor has apologized.

Speaking of Hawaii officials, Trump said “I love that they took responsibility.”

He said, “They took full responsibility but we’re going to get involved.”

Trump also said he hopes something like that doesn’t happen again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.