Buffalo 911 dispatcher on leave after allegedly hanging up on call from Tops during mass shooting

An assistant manager at Tops says 911 dispatcher asked why she was whispering, then hung up as suspect fired

Sheila Flynn
Wednesday 18 May 2022 19:50 BST
Police says Buffalo shooting was 'pure evil'

A 911 dispatcher has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly taking a call from a terrified employee inside the Buffalo supermarket where a suspect fatally shot ten people on Saturday - and quickly hanging up.

The store’s assistant manager, identified only as Latisha, called local station WGRZ during its live coverage of the massacre, detailing how she’d pulled out her phone to get help after shots rang out in her workplace.

“I tried to call 911, and I was whispering because I could hear him close by,” Latisha told the station. “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.’

“And I’m trying to tell her like, ‘Ma’am, he’s in the store. He’s shooting. It’s an active shooter. I’m scared for my life.’ And she said something crazy to me and then she hung up in my face. And I had to call my boyfriend to call 911.”

Officials from Erie County, which runs the 911 communications center, told WGRZ that “immediate action was taken and the individual who took that call is now on administrative leave pending a disciplinary hearing, which should happen within a couple of weeks.”

The dispatcher could face disciplinary action or be fired.

Thirteen people were shot Saturday when a White suspect, identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, entered the supermarket in a predominantly Black neighbourhood and opened fire.

He has been arraigned on one murder charge and pleaded not guilty. Federal authorities are investigating the incident as a racially-motivated hate crime and more charges could follow.

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