A Navy SEAL who became a conservative sensation by surviving what he claimed was a racially-motivated attack on his life by a black mob has now been arrested for lying about the whole thing.
The only thing clear in the strange and convoluted tale of what happened to Chris Heben on March 31st is that he was shot in the stomach. He showed up on foot at a fire station in Bath, Ohio with bullet fragments in his abdomen. His story of how those bullet fragments got there though turns out to be publicity-seeking lies – carefully constructed to manipulate right-wing fears of reverse-racism and black violence towards whites.
But let’s first look at Heben’s story. Here is what he says happened:
Heben, 44-year-old former SEAL who patriotically served his country from 1996 to 2006 was exercising his Constitutionally-protected right to go shopping at a local grocery store when he was almost hit by a low-sitting (read: gang-owned) sports car. Three black men (read: violent gang members) started hurling obscenities at him. Undeterred, Heben went into the store, but when he forgot his wallet he exited the store and the men were waiting for him.
For racist reasons, one of the men yelled “You got a big mouth white boy. You need to learn some f*cking respect.” Then he, or one his friends, shot Heben in the stomach.
Because Heben bleeds red, white, and blue and those colors don’t run, he said he “plugged the bullet hole” and preceded to chase the men down the street. It was only when he was a block away and about to lose consciousness that he stumbled into a nearby fire station and asked for help.
Given his military-background, the racial nature of the attack, and Heben’s tough guy response, conservative and mainstream media sources fawned over his story. Pictures of him in his hospital bed, recovering with the latest copy of the NRA-sponsored American Rifleman magazine went viral.
He appeared on CNN and Fox News to retell the (made-up) story. World Net Daily, a website devoted to conservative conspiracy theories, Obama-bashing, and at least one article suggesting soy beans make people gay, scored an exclusive interview with him, undermined only slightly by the fact that he had already conducted exclusive interviews at several other news outlets.
The white power website Stormfront tracked his recovery with tenacious concern and frequently cited his story as an example of a “war on whites” being committed by angry, violent black men. Following the familiar pattern, almost Pavlovian at this point, white power groups complained that Heben’s story was being suppressed by the mainstream media because of “political correctness” and a fear of being accused of racism, despite his appearances on mainstream media outlets.
In his WND interview, Heben stirred the pot further by suggesting that this was perhaps not only racially-motivated, but also because of Islam.
Heben said the concern of al-Qaida targeting former SEALs in the U.S. is so real that another former SEAL friend, Marcus Luttrell, has former SEALs providing him security as he goes around the country talking about his Lone Survivor Foundation.
These gangbanging, black men were racists, Islamic extremists upset that Heben’s squadmates had killed their leader, Osama Bin Laden. Heben may have been retired, but his story made the soldier the central character in the battle on two fronts: reverse-racism and Islamic terrorism.
If you are thinking “This story sounds too good to be true,” then you and the police are on the same page. While Fox News was praising Heben’s courage, police were quickly unraveling his story.
“We could not corroborate his story,” McNeely told CNN affiliate WKYC. “The more we looked into it the more evidence we gathered that he was not telling the truth.” [source]
You see, Bath, Ohio is not Iraq; it’s not even Baltimore or Chicago, when a person shoots someone in the parking lot of a grocery store, people tend to remember. Despite the brazen attack, no witness could be found to back up Heben’s story. Furthermore, no car matching his description of the one used by the shooter ever turned up. No one ever came to police with a lead. No shell casing was ever found. No video – from the numerous storefronts and shoppers there that day – ever surfaced. As far as police could tell, Heben was not shot where he said he was shot, nor was he shot by the people he said shot him. He apparently fabricated the entire incident.
Yet, he was shot. Stranger still, he allowed police to look at the license gun he owns and the bullet taken from his body did not match it.
Even without it being his registered gun, it seems possible that either Heben was shot by a person he didn’t want to admit shot him or he did it himself. While it seems inconceivable that he would aim a gun at his own stomach and pull the trigger, he did stand to gain the number one motivator of people doing stupid things: Money.
After the incident, Heben (who was already a familiar face around conservative rallies and anti-Obama protests) made the most of his experience by promoting his brand of motivational speaking and a high-priced clothing store set up at his website. In the “gear” section of www.chrisheben.com, Heben fans can purchase a $65 “SEAL team challenge” shirt or a $35 “Rise Up Against ISIS” design. For the health nut in your life, Heben’s company, Seal Team Consulting, offers “SEAL whey” protein powder which comes in “Shock-N-Awe” and “RELOAD” varieties for the savvy consumer.
Heben’s also available for motivational speaking engagements, where he undoubtedly says things like (per his Facebook page):
“Don’t accept your lot in life as it currently stands. Roger up and assault it head on. Always look for a way to dominate, not just because you can, but because you were born for it…Success is in your DNA. A low blow in life will rock you from time to time, but in the grand scheme of things it will take a hell of a lot more than that to knock you down and take you out!“
The police roger up’d and went ahead and charged Heben with misdemeanor counts of falsification and obstruction of justice. Police Chief Mike McNeely said: “We have overwhelming evidence based upon video, cell phone records and interviews that the shooting did not occur in the West Market Plaza and that Mr. Heben made false allegations to us.”
The three fictional cruising around in a low-riding gray sports car are probably so relieved.