911 dispatcher fired after allegedly hanging up on a Tops worker during the Buffalo massacre

The Erie County 911 dispatcher accused of laying on a Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets employee during last month’s mass shooting has been fired, officials said.

The unidentified dispatcher had previously been placed on administrative leave for allegedly dropping the woman’s call when self-proclaimed white supremacist Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly murdered 10 black people in a hateful supermarket shooting on May 14.

District officials had confirmed the incident and promised “immediate action.” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called the woman’s response to the emergency “inappropriate” and “unacceptable” and vowed to fire her.

Latisha Rogers, an assistant manager at the supermarket, told WGRZ she called 911 to report shots being fired at the crowded supermarket when the dispatcher yelled at her on the phone before abruptly hanging up.

“I tried calling 911 and I was whispering because I could hear him nearby,” Rogers told the outlet. “And when I whispered on the phone to 911, the dispatcher started yelling at me and saying, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper.’”

Top supermarket
Ten people were killed in the shooting at a Tops supermarket.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

The dispatcher seemed unaware that Gendron was already at the grocery store.

“And I’m trying to tell her, ‘Ma’am, he’s in the store, he’s shooting, it’s an active shooter, I’m scared for my life,'” she continued. “And she said something crazy to me and then she hung up on me right away.”

Rogers said she then called her boyfriend and told him to call 911.

Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin told WIVB, “It is evident that this call was not handled professionally.” She said the dispatcher’s full file was considered during the hearing that saw her fired.

Baskin and other district leaders said they plan to conduct a deeper investigation into the department after a similar incident happened last week.

“We will be asking for further investigations across the department because this has happened more than once in two weeks on Buffalo’s East Side,” Baskin said.

Payton Gendron
Payton Gendron pleaded not guilty Thursday.

During a birthday celebration for a surviving victim of the Tops shooting, a 911 call from the party to report that a woman had gone into cardiac arrest was dispatched by an emergency medical service, according to WIVB. This dispatcher has since been fired.

“I asked and legislators [Howard] Johnson has asked not just for an investigation into this particular caller and the history of that call, but for an investigation into the entire department and to see how many disconnects are occurring,” Baskin said.

No recordings or transcripts of the Tops 911 call have been released.

Rogers worked at the Buffalo location for three years as part of a 13-year career at Tops Friendly Market, the Buffalo News reported. She said she didn’t think she would be able to return to work at the supermarket, which has been closed since the shooting, after such a “traumatic experience”.

Gendron appeared Thursday for a brief court hearing in Buffalo, where he pleaded not guilty to a new domestic terrorism charge.

Shortly after the attack, he was charged with murder, but on Wednesday a new indictment expanded the charges to a total of 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as hate crimes, one domestic terrorism charge and three counts of attempted murder as hate crimes .

He is next scheduled to appear in court on July 7.

Gendron allegedly drove more than 200 miles from his hometown in Conklin, New York to Tops with an AR-15 style assault rifle and body armor with intent to kill. He chose the Buffalo supermarket because of its location in a mostly black neighborhood, authorities said.

Before opening fire, he posted documents online revealing his white supremacist views and said he had been planning the attack for months. He said he became radicalized when he was bored at home during the pandemic.

He was taken into custody after the mass shooting and is being held without bail.

Those killed were between 32 and 86 years old. Three others were injured.

With postal wires 911 dispatcher fired after allegedly hanging up on a Tops worker during the Buffalo massacre


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