Dispatcher Put On Leave For Allegedly Mishandling 911 Call During Mass Shooting

Tops grocery store was targeted in a mass shooting
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News & Politics
Jessica Powers

A 911 dispatcher could lose her job after she allegedly hung up on a woman inside the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York, during a racist mass shooting that killed ten people.

Woman Inside Store Reports Getting Hung Up On

The dispatcher acted inappropriately.
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A gunman entered a Tops grocery store on Buffalo's East Side and killed ten people on May 14.

Latisha Rogers, 20, was working at Tops and called 911 during the shooting. She told TV station WGRZ that she heard the shooter nearby and spoke quietly, hoping that he wouldn't hear her.

The 911 operator who answered the call questioned Rogers about why she was whispering and the call was then disconnected.

"I was whispering because I could hear him close by, and when I whispered on the phone to 911, the dispatcher started yelling at me, saying, 'Why are you whispering? You don't have to whisper,'" the woman told the TV station. "And I'm trying to tell her, like, 'Ma'am, he's in the store. He's shooting. There's an active shooter, and I'm scared for my life,' and she said something crazy to me and she hung up in my face."

Officials Confirm The Call Was Mishandled

The 911 dispatcher could lose her job.
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Earlier this week, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz held a press conference and called the 911 dispatcher's alleged actions "totally inappropriate."

Poloncarz said the dispatcher, who was not identified, has been placed on leave and faces possible termination pending the outcome of an administrative hearing scheduled for May 30.

"It is our intention to terminate that individual for what was a completely inappropriate response in a terrible situation," Poloncarz said during a news conference.

Poloncarz said a review of the 911 calls from Saturday confirmed the dispatcher did not act appropriately or as trained.

"We teach our 911 call takers that if someone is whispering, it probably means they are in trouble," Poloncarz said. "They are in an area of concern, not just in regards to active shooters, but potentially with regards to domestic violence."

The Shooter Charged With Murder

The shooter has plead not guilty.
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The 18-year-old shooter is charged with first-degree murder, and he pleaded not guilty in court. He was arrested at the shooting scene while wearing full body armor and holding an assault rifle.

The Attack Was Racially Motivated

The shooting was racially motivated.
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The victims included four grocery store employees and six customers, several of them regulars at the store, according to the Buffalo Police Department. Most of them were Black, and the shooting has been deemed racially motivated.

The victims include Ruth Whitfield, 86; Roberta Drury, 32; Aaron Salter, 55; Heyward Patterson, 67; Pearl Young, 77; Geraldine Talley, 62; Celestine Chaney, 65; Katherine Massey, 72; Margus Morrison, 52; Andre Mackneil, 53.