Dispatcher who hung up the Tops caller while shooting the shooter

The operator who hung up a frantic caller from a Tops Friendly Market during a massacre in Buffalo has been fired after a disciplinary hearing.

The coordinator, who was identified by The Buffalo News as Sheila E. Ayers, had worked for the Erie County Central Police Services Department for eight years, according to reports.

Tops employee Latisha Rogers said Ayers hanged her after asking why she was whispering during her frantic 911 call as gunshots reverberated through the grocery store on May 14 in a racially motivated shooting that killed 10 people, all black. Three people were injured. The gunman, who has since been charged with murder and domestic terrorism, explicitly targeted people of color.

As Rogers whispered into the phone from a hiding place on the floor behind a customer service desk, “the operator started yelling at me and said, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper,” the distraught Tops employee later said, adding that she replied, “I’m scared for my life.”

The operator was given leave on May 16 “while the mishandled call was investigated,” Peter Anderson, spokesman for County Executive Mark Poloncarz, told USA Today.

“They identified this one call, the problem that came with it, it was completely unacceptable,” Poloncarz told CNN.

“The operator was inappropriate,” he said, indicating it was not clear who ended the actual call. “We teach our 911 callers that if someone is whispering, it probably means they’re in trouble.”

The issues are not only related to mass shooters but are also a concern in the case of domestic violence, he said.

The Civil Service Employees Association, the dispatcher’s union, told the Associated Press Thursday that due process disciplinary rules “have been followed fairly and properly.”

With News Wire Services

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