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911 Dispatcher Fired For Allegedly Hanging Up On Supermarket Employee During Mass Shooting

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County 911 dispatcher accused of hanging up on a Tops Supermarket manager who called to report an active shooter inside the store last month has been fired, city officials confirmed.

The gunman ultimately murdered 10 people and wounded three more during the deadly rampage.

Erie County Spokesman Daniel Meyer said a disciplinary hearing for Erie County Central Police Services 911 call-taker Sheila Ayers was held on June 2, The Buffalo News reported.

“According to the Erie County Department of Personnel, the individual who was the subject of a disciplinary hearing earlier today is no longer employed as a police complaint writer for Erie County effective as of noon today,” the county said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

Ayers, 54, had been with the department for eight years, The Buffalo News reported.

Tops Assistant Office Manager Latisha Rogers said she was at work on May 14 when she heard gunshots ring out, WGRZ reported.

Rogers said she pulled out her phone and called 911 as the gunfire continued.

“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 WGRZ. “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,’ 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 said she was so terrified she dropped her phone during the call.

“Out of nervousness, my phone fell out of my hand,” she told WGRZ. “She said something I couldn’t make out, and then the phone hung up.”

Additional calls to 911 were properly handled and dispatched, and officers arrived at the scene of the mass shooting within two minutes, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told WGRZ.

When Erie County officials learned of Rogers’ allegations, they pulled the 911 recordings to review them, according to the news outlet.

Ayers was placed on administrative leave on May 16.

The 911 dispatcher told The Buffalo News she was sorry about what Rogers went through during the massacre, then accused Rogers of changing her story about how the 911 call transpired “multiple times.”

“I’m being attacked for one side of the story,” Ayers told The Buffalo News.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the 911 recordings showed the call between Rogers and Ayers was terminated, but that investigators could not ascertain which party disconnected the call.

But regardless of how the call ended, Ayers’ behavior during the call was “completely unacceptable,” Poloncarz told The Buffalo News.

He said Ayers demonstrated “a completely inappropriate response in a terrible situation.”

Civil Service Employees Association Local 815 President Denise Szymura said the union plans to file a grievance on Ayers’ behalf, and noted it would do the same with any other unionized employee in a similar situation.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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