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A 911 dispatcher has been fired over mishandling a Buffalo shooting call

Photos of people killed in the mass shooting at Tops grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., are part of a memorial near the store.
Spencer Platt
/
Getty Images
Photos of people killed in the mass shooting at Tops grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., are part of a memorial near the store.

Updated June 4, 2022 at 5:10 PM ET

A 911 dispatcher who answered a call during the racist Buffalo, N.Y., mass shooting was fired over how she handled the situation. A gunman entered a Tops grocery store on Buffalo's East Side and killed 10 people on May 14.

Latisha Rogers, 20, who was working at Tops, called 911 during the shooting. She heard the shooter nearby and spoke quietly to not draw attention to herself, she told local TV station WGRZ. The 911 operator who answered the call questioned Rogers about why she was whispering. The two were subsequently disconnected.

"The dispatcher started yelling at me, saying, 'Why are you whispering? You don't have to whisper,' " Rogers said. "And I'm trying to tell her, 'Ma'am, he is in the store. He's shooting. It's an active shooter. I'm scared for my life.' "

Rogers said she then had to ask her boyfriend to call 911 for her after her call ended.

The 911 operator's employment was terminated at a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, according to a spokesperson for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

The operator was employed for eight years. Poloncarz said the 911 call may be released in the future.

"I am not aware of any other penalties, and the call has not been released," spokesman Peter Anderson said in an email to NPR.

At a news conference ahead of the disciplinary hearing, Poloncarz said, "It is our intention to terminate that individual for what was a completely inappropriate response in a terrible situation."

The police have the 18-year-old shooter in custody. He is charged with first-degree murder; he has pleaded not guilty. He was arrested at the scene of the shooting while wearing full body armor and holding an AR-15-style rifle. Recent deep dives into his online presence have revealed red flags and racist writings posted by someone with the same name as the gunman.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amina Kilpatrick
Amina Kilpatrick is an assistant engagement editor for the Newshub team distributing stories to Facebook, Twitter, third-party platforms and more.