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911 dispatcher allegedly hung up on Tops worker during Buffalo massacre

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A 911 dispatcher accused of hanging up on a Buffalo supermarket employee calling about the mass shooter mercilessly gunning down shoppers has been suspended, officials said.

Latisha, an assistant manager at Tops Friendly Market, said she called 911 to report the gunshots allegedly fired by self-professed white supremacist Payton Gendron, 18, in the crowded supermarket on Saturday, news station WGRZ reported.

“I tried to call 911, and I was whispering because I could hear him close by,” Latisha told WGRZ. “And when I whispered on the phone to 911, the dispatcher started yelling at me, saying ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper.’”

The dispatcher was seemingly unaware that the gunman was already inside the supermarket, where authorities said a heavily armed Gendron was outfitted with body armor.

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“And I’m trying to tell her, like, ‘Ma’am, he’s in the store, he’s shooting, it’s an active shooter, I’m scared for my life’” Latisha continued. “And she said something crazy to me and then she hung up in my face. And I had to call my boyfriend to call 911.”

Erie County officials confirmed the incident is being investigated while noting “immediate action” was taken following the alleged incident.

Latisha, an assistant manager at Tops Friendly Market, said she called 911 to report the gunshots.
Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP
Police officers secure the scene.
“I tried to call 911, and I was whispering because I could hear him close by,” Latisha said.
Jeffrey T. Barnes/REUTERS
Police and FBI agents continue their investigation of the shooting at Tops.
Latisha said the dispatcher yelled at her about whispering before the dispatcher hung up on her.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“The individual who took that call is now on administrative leave pending a disciplinary hearing which should happen within a couple of weeks,” county officials told WGRZ in a statement.

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Other calls made through the county’s 911 communication center were properly dispatched, leading to rapid responses, the station reported.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has said cops were on the scene at Jefferson Avenue in a predominantly black neighborhood within two minutes. Gendron was then arrested at the scene. He has since pleaded not guilty to murder in the ruthless attack that killed 10 people.

Payton Gendron.
Payton Gendron pleaded not guilty to murder in the ruthless attack that killed 10 people.
Silex

The unnamed dispatcher could face disciplinary action including termination, WGRZ reported.

Latisha, meanwhile, has worked at the Buffalo market for three years as part of a 13-year career with Tops Friendly Market, the Buffalo News reported.

She attended a service on Sunday at True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, where she recalled not being able to get the carnage from a day earlier out of her head.

More coverage on the Buffalo supermarket shooting

“I can’t sleep,” she told the newspaper. “I can eat a little bit, but I just keep hearing gunshots and just seeing the bodies.”

Latisha said she doesn’t think she’ll be able to return to work at the supermarket.

“That store is very important to that community,” she said. “I didn’t realize how important it was until I started working there. They love that store. That is just a traumatic experience to have in that community like that.”

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