A 911 dispatcher has been fired after she hung up on a supermarket worker who called the cops while hiding during the deadly massacre in Buffalo, New York, last month.
Latisha Rogers, assistant office manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, says she called 911 while 18-year-old gunman Payton Gendron was still inside the store on 14 May.
Gendron opened fire inside the supermarket, killing 10 people and injuring three others.
A terrified Rogers called 911 and got through to Shelia E. Ayers. However, rather than being offered help, Rogers claims the call handler hung up on her.
Speaking to WGRZ, Rogers said: “I tried to call 911, and 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.' 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."
Following Rogers’ claims, Erie County, which runs the 911 communications centre through Central Police Services, announced it had launched an investigation and 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’.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Ayers had acted ‘totally inappropriately and did not follow protocol.'
He also accused Ayers, who had worked as a dispatcher for nine years, of disregarding her training and said her response to Rogers was ‘completely wrong’.
Poloncarz said dispatchers are trained to recognise that if the caller is whispering it’s likely due to the face they’re in immediate danger.
After a hearing on Thursday, Ayer’s contract was terminated and she no longer works for Erie County's Central Police Services Department.
Speaking after the incident, Ayers told Buffalo News that she was sorry for what Rogers had been through on 14 May but accused her of changing her story ‘multiple times’.
She added: “I’m being attacked for one side of the story.”
The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 815, which represented Ayers throughout the hearing, said it will file a complaint in regards to the termination.
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