October 1, 2022
A 911 dispatcher accused of bungling an emergency call from the manager of a Buffalo, New York, supermarket when a gunman burst into the store has reportedly been terminated.

A 911 dispatcher accused of bungling an emergency call from the manager of a Buffalo, New York, supermarket when a gunman burst into the store has reportedly been terminated.

The unidentified dispatcher had been on paid administrative leave since May 16 while supervisors investigated, CNN reported. While the shooting rampage was underway last month, the manager whispered into the phone to avoid detection by the gunman, but the dispatcher grew impatient and hung up.

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“It was completely unacceptable,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said during a news conference May 18. “We teach our 911 call takers that if somebody’s whispering, it probably means they are in trouble.”

A shooter stormed into a Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo on May 14 and unleashed gunfire on patrons, killing 10 black people. Latisha Rogers, an assistant manager at the store, called 911 when the shooter, believed to be a white supremacist, began his shooting spree. Three others were injured in the attack.

“She was yelling at me, saying, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper,'” Rogers told 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.”

After the dispatcher hung up, Rogers called her boyfriend and pleaded with him to call the police, hoping that he could get through, she later explained. Her account of the incident triggered an inquiry into the dispatcher’s conduct. The dispatcher worked for the county for eight years, a spokesperson told NBC.

“The individual, who was the subject of a disciplinary hearing yesterday, is no longer employed as a police complaint writer for Erie County,” a spokesperson confirmed to the outlet.

Poloncarz had publicly stated that the dispatcher was “not following protocol.”

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old suspect, was first charged with one count of murder and pleaded not guilty. This week, he pleaded not guilty to the 25 counts contained in an indictment returned by a grand jury Thursday. That indictment contained a charge of a domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree, 10 counts of murder in the first degree, 10 counts of murder in the second degree as a hate crime, three counts of attempted murder in the second degree as a hate crime, and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, an armed felony.

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The Buffalo shooting was one of a number of mass shootings in the United States over recent weeks that has garnered national attention and mourning, including the massacre at Robb Elementary School that took place 10 days later and killed 22, including the shooter, as well as 19 children and two teachers.

New York’s legislature has passed more stringent gun control measures in the wake of the Buffalo rampage, raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21.

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