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Buffalo mass shooting: 911 dispatcher fired for allegedly hanging up on Tops supermarket employee

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The 911 dispatcher accused of hanging up on a caller reporting the mass shooting inside the Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, last month has been fired following a disciplinary hearing. 

The dispatcher, who worked for the Erie County Central Police Services Department for eight years, had been on administrative leave since May 16 “as the mishandled call was investigated,” Peter Anderson, a spokesman for the office of the Erie County Executive, told media outlets. 

Anderson said the dispatcher was fired during a disciplinary hearing Thursday morning and was no longer employed as a police complaint writer for Erie County as of noon that day. Though he did not name the terminated employee, The Buffalo News identified the woman as Sheila E. Ayers. 

Ayers, 54, answered the 911 call from Latisha Rogers, an assistant office manager at the Tops Friendly Market located on Jefferson Avenue, as the accused gunman, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, opened fire May 14. Rogers later recounted to news outlets ducking behind the store’s customer service desk upon hearing gunfire and dialing 911, though the dispatcher scolded her for whispering into her cell phone. 

BUFFALO MASS SHOOTING: 911 DISPATCHER ON LEAVE AFTER ALLEGEDLY HANGING UP ON TOPS SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE 

“I called 911, I go through the whole operator and everything, the dispatcher comes on and I’m whispering to her, and I said ‘Miss, please send help to 1275 Jefferson there is a shooter in the store’,” Rogers told WZZM. “She proceeded in a very nasty tone and says, ‘I can’t hear you, why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper. They can’t hear you’.” 

Police secure an area around a supermarket where several people were killed in a shooting, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. 

Police secure an area around a supermarket where several people were killed in a shooting, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. 
(Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

“So, I continued to whisper, and I said, ‘ma’am he’s still in the store, he’s still shooting!  I’m scared for my life, please send help’,” Rogers added. “Out of nervousness, my phone fell out of my hand, she said something I couldn’t make out, and then the phone hung up.”

Anderson previously told Fox News Digital that the dispatcher’s handling of the call “had no bearing on the dispatching of the call,” which was sent for “an immediate police response within 30 seconds.”

Payton Gendron arrives for a hearing at the Erie County Courthouse on May 19, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. 

Payton Gendron arrives for a hearing at the Erie County Courthouse on May 19, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. 
((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images))

County Executive Marc Poloncarz last month called the handling of the 911 call “completely unacceptable” and said the county would seek to fire the employee.

The dispatcher’s union, the Civil Service Employees Association, said Thursday it had ensured that disciplinary due process provisions were “followed fairly and appropriately here.”

The dispatcher told The Buffalo News late last month she was sorry about what the caller went through during the shooting, adding that more facts would come out at the hearing.

Flowers are left at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market on May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. 

Flowers are left at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market on May 15, 2022, in Buffalo, New York. 
((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images))

Ayers was terminated the same day Gendron pleaded not guilty to new hate-motivated domestic terrorism and other charges Thursday. He was charged with murder shortly after the attack. 

On Wednesday, a new indictment expanded the case to include the domestic terrorism charge, along with 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, criminal possession of a weapon and three counts of attempted murder as a hate crime.

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Gendron has been held without bail since the shooting and is due back in court July 7.

Prosecutors said Gendron drove about three hours to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, New York, to target African Americans. Shortly before opening fire, he allegedly posted documents that outlined his White supremacist views and revealed he had been planning the attack for months.

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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