A 911 dispatcher was fired on Thursday for mishandling an emergency call by a grocery store worker during last month’s shooting in New York that left 10 people dead.
The Buffalo News reported that Erie County call taker Sheila Ayers was terminated following a disciplinary hearing. Ayers, who had worked for the police department for eight years, was working in the Enhanced 911 center on May 14 when an assistant office manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo called about a shooting.
The assistant manager, Latisha Rogers, was hiding behind a counter when she called 911. Ayers allegedly berated Rogers for whispering and ordered her to speak up.
“She was yelling at me, saying, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper,'” Rogers recalled to The Buffalo News. “And I was telling her, ‘Ma’am, he’s still in the store. He’s shooting. I’m scared for my life. I don’t want him to hear me. Can you please send help?’ She got mad at me, hung up in my face.”
Ayers told the news outlet that Rogers had changed her story several times. Rogers said she dropped her phone during the call, and she picked it up to find the call had ended.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said it is unclear who hung up on who but Ayers’ behavior was “completely unacceptable.” Ayers was placed on administrative leave on May 16, two days after the deadly mass shooting, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
Buffalo police officers apprehended suspect Payton Gendron — who was reportedly wearing body armor — six minutes after they were dispatched to the supermarket. The shooting is believed to have been racially motivated, as Gendron reportedly penned a 180-page manifesto in which he details his beliefs in the “great replacement,” a racist ideology that declares that white people and their culture are being erased by an influx of immigrants and other racial minorities. Gendron allegedly wrote that he originally planned to kill himself but ultimately decided to commit a mass shooting 200 miles from his home.
Gendron reportedly live-streamed the shooting on Twitch, and a racial slur was seen on the gun he used to shoot 13 people, 11 of whom were Black.
On Thursday, Gendron pleaded not guilty to 25 new charges, including domestic terrorism.
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[Featured image: AP Photo/Joshua Bessex]