HONOLULU — When an misguided alert was despatched out final month telling folks in Hawaii that there was an incoming ballistic missile, Jeffrey Wong was an island away from the state’s emergency administration company workplace the place he works as an operations officer.
Wong helped collect tons of of panicked visitors at his lodge on the island of Kauai to hunt shelter in a restaurant till he confirmed the alert was a mistake.
Then an Related Press circulated picturing Wong months earlier on the company’s Honolulu operations heart on Oahu island — and folks mistakenly thought Wong was the “button-pusher” who despatched out the alert, wrongly accusing him in on-line feedback of inflicting widespread panic and confusion.
Wong instructed The Related Press final week he rapidly discovered how merciless the web could be: “A number of anger, a number of ignorance got here out because of that.”
He added: “It’s very hurtful to be wrongly accused, wrongly marked as a person that’s liable for actions that affected, in a unfavorable method, lots of people throughout the state of Hawaii and probably around the globe.”
Wong stated he wished to set the report straight so the general public is aware of he didn’t ship out the alert. The worker who did has been fired. That man, who spoke to reporters individually on the situation that his title not be revealed, stated he was devastated for inflicting panic however believed at it was an actual assault on the time.
Wong, who oversees day-to-day operations on the company, stated he neither employed the opposite man nor did the person report on to him. He stated the previous worker’s supervisor does report back to him.
The AP took the photograph in July 2017 to accompany a narrative about Hawaii making ready for a North Korean missile risk. The information company didn’t resend it after the false missile alert, however folks discovered it on-line and recirculated it on social media.
A few of their feedback known as for Wong to be shot and water-boarded and there have been additionally racially derogatory feedback with some folks questioning his loyalty to Hawaii and the U.S., he stated.
The photograph additionally included a yellow sticky be aware within the background that appeared to have a password on it, which individuals circulating the photograph after the false alert identified as a cause to criticize the emergency administration company — prompting much more on-line rage.
Fearing for his security, Wong took screen-shots and print-outs to Honolulu police and filed a police report 4 days after the Jan. 13 false alert. Authorities are conducting a first-degree terroristic threatening and harassment investigation, stated police spokeswoman Michelle Yu.
Whereas Wong has been overwhelmed by the criticism he has endured, visitors on the lodge the place he was attending a civil air patrol convention praised his efforts to maintain them secure.
“We admire your actions drastically and are grateful that you simply occurred to be there and confirmed your self to be sturdy, calm and optimistic,” Marc Tiar, who was vacationing along with his household, wrote in an electronic mail to Wong after returning residence to Nevada. “We’re secure at residence in Reno now, however my household and I’ll always remember that day or the person who made certain we’d be as secure as doable.”