The phony Marine seen standing guard outside a California elementary school in response to the deadly Newtown, Conn., shooting in which 20 children died, said he was “deeply sorry” over the incident, but claimed he wasn’t responsible for misinformation about his military career.
Craig Pusley, a Marine who wore a uniform that showed he was a sergeant, said he didn’t lie to a Modesto Bee reporter who interviewed him after learning he stood guard outside Hughson Elementary School.
“There’s a lot of fabrication to this story that didn’t come out of my mouth,” Pusley told the Marine Times, which includes that he was a sergeant although military records showed he was a private. “All I know is that I talked to a Modesto Bee lady, and everything went crazy.”
The newspaper reported that Pusley “had a far less distinguished career than he claimed in public,” including that he served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pusley, 28, guarded Hughson amid a Facebook campaign urging veterans to stand guard outside elementary schools following last week’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman, Adam Lanza, also shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home.
“I just want to have a word to this community that I stand between them and any danger,” Pusley said as he greeted children and their parents on Wednesday at the Modesto school. “I don’t need to be armed to do this. I don’t have a fear in the world that if someone came here, I’d have the strength and the ability to protect them.”
The Modesto Bee stood by its story and said Pusley was not misquoted as he claimed.
“The Modesto Bee correctly quoted what Mr. Pusley told reporter Nan Austin in a Wednesday interview. We stand by the story,” said the newspaper’s editor, Joe Kieta.
When pressed by the Marine Times about why his uniform identified him as a sergeant, Pusley claimed he borrowed the uniform from a friend. He also said he didn’t lie about his military service to the Bee.
“I feel horrible about this,” the former Marine said. “My intention was for the kids. I don’t understand why everyone has to find a negative in every situation.”