One thing's for sure: On the evening of March 31, 2014, Chris Heben—former Navy SEAL, American patriot, and purveyor of motivational workout videos and t-shirts—drove himself to a fire station with a gunshot to his abdomen. Everything else, though, is bullshit.
Heben, a 44-year-old vet with a passing resemblance to Hugh Jackman, had told police that he was shot by three racist black men after an altercation in the parking lot of a grocery store near his home in Bath, Ohio. The men's car had almost hit him, and he shouted at them about it before heading into the store, he'd said.
Heben claimed that he went into the Mustard Seed grocery store, but returned to his car because he forgot his wallet.
According to Heben's story, he plugged the bullet hole, and tried to chase the men down in his car until he began to lose consciousness. So, he stopped at a fire station for help.
Heben quickly recovered, but there were immediate questions about why he hadn't called the police after his shooting. "I wanted to keep it on the down low," he told one local news station. "At that point in time, I did an immediate physical assessment and I was still functioning. Plus, I wanted to chase after these guys. I'm aggressive."
The story of Heben's vicious victimization and his stoic heroism quickly became viral catnip. The right-wing blogosphere especially took up Heben's cause. Some conservatives and white-power groups immediately called his shooting a "racial hate crime" perpetrated by blacks.
But Heben had another theory: In an "exclusive" interview with the birther right-wing site WorldNetDaily, he surmised that Al Qaeda operatives had attempted to kill him in retaliation for the SEALs' role in killing Osama Bin Laden:
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.
Heben became a cause celebre. He got extra exposure for the local auto dealer that had made him a paid spokesman. He went on radio and TV, including the interview above, to describe his ordeal. And he continued to market himself online.
All the while, police had their doubts. They couldn't find any trace of the assailants or the grey sportscar Heben said they were driving. Multiple surveillance photos showed no evidence of the street chase Heben described, or even of the shooting, or even that he'd been at the grocery store. But why would he make something like that up... and soak up the spotlight?
Conservative and ultra-patriotic media exposure wasn't something new to Heben; in fact, after leaving the Teams, it appears to have been his bread and butter. Long before his shooting, he spoke to Tea Party rallies and gave the "Navy SEAL perspective" on current events to local news stations. And he made numerous appearances on Fox News.
In one of those appearances, Heben sounded off about a Benghazi "coverup," praised the two former SEALs-turned -contractors killed there, and trashed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The fact that these guys were hung out to dry, basically exposed like a set of dog balls, pisses me off," he told Jeannine Pirro in 2012:
In another appearance, he told Pirro how "amazingly easy" it would be for terrorists to "dismantle" America's power grid. Later, he opined on U.S. soldier and released Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl, subtly suggesting his release shouldn't have been such a priority.
Heben's tough talk sounded passionate and sincere, but it may also have been calibrated to improve his brand and bottom line. His website, www.chrisheben.com, links to two business ventures. One consults filmmakers and media on security and militaria; the other, "Seal Team Consulting," offers motivational speaking, "Seal Team gear," nutrition and exercise counseling, and personal security services to paying customers. That's in addition to Heben's paid work for Under Armor Hunt, as well as his association with the NRA and his aspirations to be a mom-and-apple-pie, shoot-you-in-the-eye country singer/songwriter:
But whatever promise any of his multiple careers held, they were halted last week when police said they had "overwhelming evidence" that Heben had made up his story of the shooting, and now faced criminal charges himself:
Heben, 44, has been charged with misdemeanor counts of falsification and obstruction of justice.
"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," said Bath Township Police Chief Mike McNeely.
Another local station also discovered that the all-American Heben—a medical professional, and a crusader for integrity and strength in government and all things martial—had three previous convictions for forging drug prescriptions.
What is not in doubt is that Heben showed up that night in March with a fragmented slug in his belly. How did it happen? The police say they don't know for sure. Only that Heben's cover story was bogus. And why would Heben spin such an intricate yarn—the store trip, the three black men, the low-rise sports car? Was it to enhance his own legend as an operator? To make money? To sow racial division? Or perhaps just to cover for a friend or an embarrassing mishap?
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.