A Buffalo emergency services dispatcher could be fired after a supermarket worker accused him of hanging up on a 911 call during a racist shooting at the store last week.
The dispatcher was placed on administrative leave on Monday after an internal investigation and faces a disciplinary hearing on May 30, at which “dismissal will be sought,” said County Executive spokesman Peter Anderson. ‘Erie.
The investigation was sparked by comments to The Buffalo News from Latisha Rogers, deputy office manager at Tops supermarket where a white gunman killed 10 black people in one of the worst racist mass shootings in recent state history. -United.
The man accused of the murders, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, was accused of traveling 200 miles from his home in Conklin, NY, specifically to kill black people, fueled by a racist belief in the so-called replacement theory.
On Saturday, authorities said, he opened fire outside the supermarket, then went inside and continued shooting at shoppers and workers before surrendering to police. He pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder.
Ms Rogers told The News that after calling 911 trying to hide from the gunman, she whispered in hopes of continuing to evade him. The dispatcher, she said, had warned her.
“She was yelling at me, saying, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper,’ Ms Rogers told The News, “and I was like, ‘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, she hung up on my face.
Ms Rogers, 33, told The News she then called her boyfriend and told him to call 911.
She offered a similar description of the events in a separate interview with The New York Times, saying she was standing behind the store’s customer service counter when she first heard gunshots.
After slipping away, she told the Times, she pulled out her cell phone, called 911 and whispered to the dispatcher that someone was shooting in the store. The dispatcher had asked why she was whispering and then the connection broke, Ms Rogers said in the interview.
Mr. Anderson, Erie County Executive spokesman Mark Poloncarz, told Fox 5 New York that “the dispatcher’s action had no bearing on the dispatch of the call.” At a news conference Sunday, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia said the first 911 call came in at 2:30 p.m. and officers arrived at the store at 2:31 p.m.
Officials from the union that represents the dispatcher, CSEA Local 815, could not immediately be reached for comment.