BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 911 dispatcher has been put on administrative leave for her handling of a call about the mass shooting at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.
Poloncarz said what happened regarding the call was “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.” According to him, the call came from someone who was inside the store during the shooting that killed 10 people and injured three others. Erie County is pushing for the dispatcher’s termination, Poloncarz said.
A Tops employee inside the store when the gunman opened fire Saturday told the Buffalo News when she called 911 to report the active shooter, the dispatcher asked why she was whispering, then hung up on her.
“She was yelling at me, saying, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper,'” Latisha, who only wanted to be known by her first name, said in an interview with the newspaper. “And I was telling her, ‘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?'”
The Buffalo News reports a disciplinary hearing will be held for the unnamed dispatcher on May 30.
The gunman started shooting around 2:30 p.m. Saturday outside Tops Friendly Market, a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in the western New York city.
The gunman began shooting in the parking lot. Inside, he exchanged gunfire with a security guard, who was killed, as he stalked through the aisles shooting shoppers.
Wearing a helmet camera, the gunman livestreamed the shooting on Twitch. The gaming platform said it took down the video in less than two minutes.
At one point, the video shows, he aimed at a white person hiding behind a checkout counter, but said “Sorry!” and didn’t shoot.
When police confronted the gunman as he exited the store, he put his rifle to his neck. He then dropped the gun and surrendered.
A screed apparently authored by the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, says the attack was meant to terrorize nonwhite, non-Christian people into fleeing the U.S. The diatribe resounds with white supremacist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic beliefs that reflect an increasingly prominent conspiracy theory about a plot to reduce white people’s global influence by “replacing” them.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has called the massacre “an absolute racist hate crime” by a man with hate in his “heart, soul and mind.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.