U.S. President Donald Trump made his first public comments about the nearly 40 minutes of panic residents in Hawaii faced Saturday after cellphone and TV screens briefly displayed a false emergency alert about a ballistic missile headed for the state.
A state-wide emergency alert was activated just after 8 a.m. local time, sending a message to residents that said: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Hawaii officials apologized repeatedly and said the alert was sent when someone hit the wrong button during a shift change. They vowed to ensure it would never happen again.
“We made a mistake,” said Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump had been briefed on the incident, which she deemed an “emergency management exercise,” despite Hawaii Gov. David Ige and other officials revealing the missile alert was sent out in error.
It wasn’t until late Sunday that Trump commented on the fiasco in Hawaii.
WATCH: How did a ballistic missile alert warning accidentally get sent out in Hawaii?
“Well, that was a state thing. We are going to now get involved with them, I love that they took responsibility,” the president told reporters at his Florida golf club. “They took total responsibility. But we are going to get involved – their attitude, what they want to do, I think it’s terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake. We hope that it won’t happen again.”
Trump did take to Twitter on Saturday, but he decided to attack “fake news” and the author of the damning book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.
Trump has faced backlash on social media for not informing the public that Hawaii was not in fact under a missile threat.
Residents and tourists described Saturday’s panic in Hawaii as they were unsure what exactly was unfolding in the early morning hours.
“It was a frantic morning, my wife was in tears, we didn’t know what to do,” a tourist explained to local media.
WATCH: Hawaii residents, tourists react following accidental incoming missile alert warning
“I was just sleeping and my friend woke me and said ‘Hey, let’s go, there’s a bomb coming for Hawaii,’” a resident said. “We went to this place, a concrete building, and we see people just running on the street, they were all desperate.
“The guy had one job, right, and he messed up,” the resident said of the error.
Trump said Sunday that he hoped the error doesn’t happen again.
“But part of it is that people are on edge. Maybe eventually we will solve the problem so they don’t need to be so on edge,” Trump said.
–with files from Rahul Kalvapalle