World News

911 dispatcher fired after 'hanging up on' Buffalo supermarket staffer

911 dispatcher is fired after ‘hanging up on’ Buffalo supermarket employee hiding during mass shooting that killed 10 and asking her why she was whispering

  • Sheila E. Ayers, who worked for the Erie County’s dispatch center, was fired
  • She allegedly hung up on a Tops Friendly Markets employee during the May 14 shooting at the grocery store
  • Assistant office manager Latisha Rogers said Ayers asked her why she was whispering during the shooting before the call taker abruptly hung up on her
  • Ayers had been placed on paid administrative since May 16 after an investigation into 911 calls that were made during the massacre was ongoing
  • Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Ayers acted ‘totally inappropriately’ and did not follow protocol’ 
  • The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 815, representing Ayers, said it will file a complaint regarding Ayers’ firing

A 911 dispatcher has been fired after allegedly hanging up on an supermarket employee hiding during last month’s shooting rampage in Buffalo, New York.

Sheila E. Ayers lost her job after Latisha Rogers, assistant office manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, claims she called 911 as 18-year-old gunman Payton Gendron opened fire on May 14, killing 10 black people and injuring three others. 

‘I called 911, I go through the whole operator and everything, the dispatcher comes on and I’m whispering to her,’ she told WGRZ. ‘I said ”Miss, please send help to 1275 Jefferson there is a shooter in the store.”’

People gather outside a supermarket where 10 people were killed in a shooting on May 14, in Buffalo, New York. Officials said a witness called a 911 dispatcher to report the massacre before the call taker hung up, as the gunman opened fire after entering the supermarket

Latisha Rogers, assistant office manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo (pictured), claims the dispatcher responded in a ‘nasty tone’ and questioned why she was whispering, before hanging up on her

Rogers claims Ayers answered her in a ‘nasty tone’ and questioned why she was whispering, before hanging up on her.

‘She says ”I can’t hear you, why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper, they can’t hear you,”’ the Tops employee recalled.

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

Authorities had been reviewing the 911 call since the shooting on May 14 and placed the operator on paid administrative leave two days later until the investigation into the call was complete, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told WGRZ.

Ayers had been working as a 911 dispatcher in the area for eight years, according to the Washington Post. 

In a press conference on May 18, Poloncarz told reporters the county intended to terminate the 911 call taker, who acted ‘totally inappropriately and did not follow protocol.’

Buffalo residents showed up in droves to mourn the victims of the supermarket shooting that killed 10 a day after the shooting, on May 15

After last month’s deadly incident, Ayers told Buffalo News that she was sorry about her interaction on the phone with Rogers during the shooting. However, she further said that the account that Rogers had given to local authorities about what exactly transpired was changed ‘multiple times.’

‘I’m being attacked for one side of the story,’ Ayers told the local news outlet.

The Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 815, which represented Ayers throughout the hearing, said it will file a complaint regarding Ayers’ firing.

Erie County’s emergency call center regularly receives 911 calls from both landlines and mobile phones. Poloncarz said that dispatchers at the local center are usually trained to recognize that if someone is whispering in a 911 call then it likely means that the caller is in danger.   

He added that he would release the transcript and recording of the 911 call in the aftermath of the shooting.

Gendron was arrested just after the shooting for allegedly killing 10 black people and injuring three others. Police say the massacre was motivated by the 18 year-old’s hatred for black people

Mourners react while attending a vigil for victims of the shooting at a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 15

All 10 of the victims (pictured) have been named by family members a day after the May 14 shooting

However, First Assistant Erie County Attorney Jeremy Toh denied Poloncarz’s claims to the Buffalo News, despite the Committee on Open Government, which is under New York state’s governance, expressing the opinion that ‘911 tapes can be viewed as records compiled in the ordinary course of business and as such, should generally be subject to disclosure,’ according to the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press. 

Under Section 308.4 of New York county law, 911 calls ‘shall not be made available’ to the public. 

Meanwhile, the supermarket’s shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron was indicted by a grand jury on domestic terrorism motivated by hate, which would carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison, and 10 counts of first-degree murder.

The horrific nature of the shooting and the number of victims was likely to already guarantee a life sentence if Gendron is convicted. New York has no death penalty. However, adding a state terrorism charge could carry additional emotional resonance and help authorities send a message about violent extremism. 

The domestic terrorism charge — Domestic Acts of Terrorism Motivated by Hate in the First Degree — accuses Gendron of killing ‘because of the perceived race and/or color’ of his victims.

‘This man was motivated by hate against people he never met for no reason other than the color of their skin,’ said Buffalo lawyer John Elmore, who represents the families of victims Katherine ‘Kat’ Massey, 72, and Andre Mackniel, 53. Elmore said he hoped for a conviction on every count.

Gendron (pictured) wears all orange as he’s brought into the courtroom on May 19 and indicted on 10 counts of first-degree murder and domestic terrorism after the Tops Friendly Market massacre

Gendron, 18, spent months agonizing over the details of his plan to carry out a mass shooting. He is seen wearing military gear and a GoPro in a photo posted online. The gunman livestreamed the shooting on May 14 with a GoPro

Gendron also posted an image of the gun he used in the attack. He wrote vulgar words, including the names of other white supremacists on it

A photo posted to Gendron’s online diary shows supplies he gathered prior to shooting

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the domestic terrorism hate crime law in August 2019, in the wake of a mass shooting targeting Mexicans at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. The measure, dubbed the ‘Josef Neumann Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act’ after an attack at a rabbi’s home in Munsey, New York, was signed into law on April 3, 2020, and took effect November 1, 2020.

The law expanded on a previous domestic terrorism statute passed after the 9/11 terrorist attack that was largely envisioned as a way to go after international extremism.

Prosecutors said Gendron drove about three hours to Buffalo from his home in Conklin, New York, intending to kill as many black people as possible. Shortly before the attack he posted documents that outlined his white supremacist views and revealed he had been planning the attack for months.

The gunman, carrying an AR-15-style rifle he had recently purchased, opened fire on Saturday afternoon shoppers at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

Murder charges were filed for each of the victims, who ranged in age from 32 to 86 and included eight customers, the store security guard and a church deacon who drove shoppers to and from the store with their groceries.

The shooting, followed 10 days later by a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers inside a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, has renewed a national debate about gun control.


Ten people were killed in a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York on Saturday.

Retired Buffalo Police Department cop Aaron Salter was killed after trying to shoot back at the alleged shooter

Aaron Salter Jr., 75

Salter is a retired Buffalo police officer who worked as a security guard at the supermarket. 

He was fatally shot after confronting accused shooter Payton Gendron inside the store.

Salter’s shots failed to penetrate Gendron’s armored vest, officials confirmed to CBS News, 

After he shot at Gendron, the teen returned fire, killing Salter.  

Ruth Whitfield, 86, the mother of former Buffalo fire commissioner Garnell Whitfield, was also killed in the attack

Ruth Whitfield, 86

Whitfield had just visited her husband in a nursing home and decided to stop at the Tops on her way home to get something to eat, WGRZ reported.

She was also the mother of Former Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, according to the television station. 

Following the shooting, he said during an interview with the Buffalo News: ‘My mom was the consummate mom. My mother was a mother to the motherless. She was a blessing to all of us. She loved God and taught us to do the same thing,’ he said. 

Katherine Massey, 72, had gone to the supermarket to do her grocery shopping when she was fatally shot

Katherine Massey, 72

She had gone to the supermarket to do her grocery shopping when she was fatally shot. 

Her brother was supposed to pick her up after she finished her errands, but arrived to the grisly aftermath of a mass shooting.

Massey was a civil rights and education advocate.

Former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, who had known Massey for over 20 years, told The Buffalo News that she ‘did everything she could to lift up Buffalo’s black community.’

Last year, Massey wrote a letter calling for more federal regulation of firearms, citing both urban street violence and mass shootings.

Pearly Young, 77, who fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years, was also killed

Pearly Young, 77

Young fed needy residents in Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood for 25 years.

Young, originally from Alabama, moved to New York as a young adult and married a pastor.

She had gone to lunch with her sister-in-law on Saturday and was dropped off at the grocer afterwards. Her son was expected to pick her up, but when he arrived at the store, all was in chaos.

Her relatives told Young will be remembered for her love for God and her family.

Celestine Chaney, 65, who was at the supermarket to buy strawberries for shortcake at the time of the shooting

Celestine Chaney, 65

Chaney was a breast cancer survivor, was at the supermarket with her older sister, JoAnn Daniels, because she wanted to buy strawberries for shortcake.

The loving mother and grandmother-of-six was also picking up some shrimp for her husband, Raymond.

Daniels told The Buffalo Times she never saw Gendron, but heard the sounds of his assault rifle.

She and Chaney were trying to flee when the 65-year-old was shot.

‘She fell and I thought she had got up and was behind me, but she wasn’t behind me,’ Daniels recalled. 

Roberta Drury, 32, was at the store to buy groceries for dinner. She had moved to the area to close to her older brother

Roberta Drury, 32

Drury was at the store to buy groceries for dinner when the shooting began.

She had moved to Buffalo from the Syracuse, New York, area to be with her older brother after his bone marrow transplant, her sister, Amanda Drury, told Reuters. 

Drury helped him with his bar, The Dalmatia, and with his family.

‘She was vibrant and outgoing, could talk to anyone,’ Amanda said. 

Heyward Patterson, 68, often give people rides to and from the supermarket and would help them carry their groceries

Heyward Patterson, 68

He often give people rides to and from the supermarket and would help them carry their groceries. This role earned him the nickname ‘Jitney.’

He was also a church deacon and would welcome parishioners and escort them to their seats.

‘He would give the shirt off his back,’ his wife, Tirzah Patterson, told The Buffalo News. ‘That’s who he is. He wouldn’t hurt anybody. Whatever he had, he’d give it to you.’

Geraldine Talley, right, entered the store on Saturday with her fiancée to pick up a few items for dinner

Geraldine Talley, 62

Talley is a mother of two children – Genicia Talley, 42, and Mark Talley, 32, and was also like a second mother to her niece, Kesha Chapman.

She had entered the store on Saturday to just pick up a few items, her sister, Kaye Chapman-Johnson told ABC News.

She had told her fiancée to go to another aisle to retrieve something off one of the shelves when the gunfire started.

Talley is now remembered for her mouth-watering cheesecake, People reports.

‘She was truly an amazing woman, and I’m going to miss her dearly,’ Chapman-Johnson said of her sister. 

Andre Mackniel, 53, was in town visiting relatives and went to the store to pick up a surprise birthday cake for his grandson

Andre Mackniel, 53 

Andre Mackniel, who also went by Andre Elliot, was in town visiting relatives.

He was at the store on Saturday to pick up a surprise birthday cake for his grandson, USA Today reports. 

But ‘he never came out with the cake,’ his cousin Clarissa Alston-McCutcheon said, describing her cousin as a ‘loving and caring guy’ who ‘loved family’ and ‘was always there for his family.’

He was listed as ‘engaged’ on his Facebook page.

Mackniel, of Auburn, New York, was self-employed, but used to work at Buffalo Wild Wings, according to Finger Lakes Daily News.

Margus Morrison was a father-of-three and an active bus aide for Buffalo schools since February 2019

Margus Morrison, 52 

Margus Morrison was a father of three who was an active bus aide for Buffalo schools since February 2019, USA Today reports.

His family later confirmed he was killed in the deadly shooting.  


Source: Read Full Article