911 dispatcher fired for telling caller to stop 'whispering' during Buffalo mass shooting

Union pledges to file grievance on behalf of fired worker, while lawmakers demand investigation of entire department, saying it's a pattern of incidents.

Updated: June 5, 2022 - 3:06pm

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The 911 dispatcher who took a call from a worker in Tops Friendly Markets during last month's Buffalo mass shooting has been fired for her conduct after a Thursday disciplinary hearing, The Buffalo News reported.

A review of call records couldn't determine whether dispatcher Sheila Ayers or caller Latisha Rogers hung up after the former told the latter, hiding behind a counter while suspect Payton Gendron was shooting up the grocery store, to stop whispering.

Rogers admitted dropping her phone before the call ended, and Ayers told the newspaper the caller has changed her story "multiple times," but Eric County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Ayers nonetheless ignored her training that whispering likely means the caller is in danger and that her reaction was "completely unacceptable."

Ayers' white-collar employees union, Civil Service Employees Association Local 815, will file a grievance on her behalf as it would any fired county employee, President Denise Szymura said.

First Assistant Erie County Attorney Jeremy Toth contradicted Poloncarz's promise to release the transcript and recording of the 911 call, saying it would violate county law on E911 calls.

Erie County Legislator April Baskin told WIVB that Ayers' "entire record was taken into consideration" in the hearing, not just the Rogers call. She and fellow Legislator Howard Johnson will ask for "further investigations into the full department because this happened more than once in the matter of two weeks on Buffalo’s East Side," to determine "how many disconnections are happening."