Former SO1 Chris Heben recuperates in his hospital bed after a March 28 shooting. Police now allege that Heben fabricated the story of how the shooting took place. (Via Facebook)
Then-SO2 Chris Heben is shown during a post-9/11 deployment to Pakistanto Pakistan. (Courtesy of Chris Heben)
A former Navy SEAL who claimed he chased his assailants after being shot in an Ohio parking lot in March lied about what happened that day, according to local police.
Former Special Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Chris Heben was shot in the lower abdomen, but not at West Market Plaza, Bath Township Police Chief Michael McNeely told Navy Times in a Thursday phone interview.
Heben was served Thursday with a summons to appear on charges of falsification and obstructing official business, according to a release from the Bath Police Department, and faces up to 180 days in jail and a $1,750 fine. Court records indicate he’ll be arraigned on Sept. 11.
Police have concluded that Heben lied about the location of the shooting after collecting surveillance tapes and other evidence. Heben claimed he was shot during an altercation in the parking lot and later tried to chase down the perpetrators while plugging the bullet wound with his finger, a story that gained him national attention.
Investigators pulled Heben’s cell phone records, which indicated that he hadn’t been at the shopping center at the time the alleged shooting happened, McNeely said.
Mobile phones ping the nearest cell tower, leaving a digital map of everywhere a carried phone goes.
Additionally, McNeely said, the police pulled surveillance video from the stores in the shopping center and along the route Heben said he took to chase the suspects. None of them showed Heben or the car he described.
“We know that he was shot, but why or where — that would just be speculation on our part,” McNeely said.
Heben, 44, did not respond to phone calls, a phone message and an email seeking comment Thursday.
Heben told Navy Times in April that he was picking up a present for his mother at the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe the evening of March 28 when a gray sports car nearly backed into him.
He and the driver exchanged words, Heben said, but no one shouted. As he was heading back inside, he said, the car pulled up to him, and after a few words from the driver, he felt like he’d been “mule-kicked in the gut.”
Heben said his training kicked in and he decided to go after them.
“I’m all amped up. You know, I’m a SEAL — I’m not thinking 911, I’m thinking, ‘must catch people,’ ” he said.
He said he followed them for a few minutes, but pulled over for help at a fire station when his vision started to blur.
Heben spent several days in a local hospital, where doctors removed the fragmented bullet. He shared his story via social media, sending photo updates from his hospital bed.
Since then, however, tips from the public hadn’t panned out and the evidence gathered undermined Heben’s account, McNeely said.
“We normally don’t have this type of activity,” McNeely said. “Our community is a very non-violent community with little crime. However, we treated it to his word.”
Heben served 10 years in the Navy, most of them with SEAL Team 8, deploying to Iraq, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and then as an instructor with Naval Special Warfare Group 2, according to Navy records.
Since his honorable discharge, he has served as a special operations contractor overseas, in addition to roles in several entrepreneurial enterprises.
If convicted he could face up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine on the falsification charge, a first-degree misdemeanor. Obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor, can carry up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine, according to the release.