A Buffalo, New York 911 operator was fired yesterday (June 2) after mishandling a phone call during the deadly May 14 mass shooting.
As previously reported by REVOLT, a Tops Friendly Markets assistant office manager named Latisha Rogers called for help while the massacre was in progress, but the dispatcher reportedly hung up on her because she was whispering.
Rogers survived the shooting, but the targeted tragedy claimed the lives of 10 people. During the racially-motivated attack, a gunman walked into the grocery store and opened fire on Black customers as he live-streamed the hate crime on social media.
The dispatcher’s name has been withheld, but up until yesterday, they had been on paid administrative leave since May 16. County Executive Mark Poloncarz shared that on May 30, a hearing took place to “terminate the 911 call taker who acted totally inappropriately, not following protocol.”
CNN spoke with the store employee who described the events of that day. “I look up out the window and I saw this customer, this lady with her shopping cart – she just stopped – and she just had this really funny look on her face and then she just turned to run,” Rogers said.
She continued, “Next thing you know, you just keep hearing boom, boom, boom. All we could do was just drop to the ground.”
The woman says that she was “praying that he didn’t see me” as she hid behind a counter. That’s when she used a phone to dial 911.
“Please send help, there’s a person in the store shooting,” Rogers says she told the operator. “What? I can’t hear you,” the person on the other end of the line responded. “Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper, they can’t hear you.”
The Tops assistant office manager said the dispatcher’s dismissive attitude added to her trauma from the day’s events.
Central Police Services were able to find the recorded conversation and the county executive said, “They identified this one call, the issue associated with it, it was completely unacceptable.”
Poloncarz added, “We teach our 911 call takers that if someone is whispering, it probably means they are in trouble.”