911 dispatcher fired after hearing determines she mishandled call during Buffalo shooting

The Erie County 911 call taker accused of mishandling and cutting off a desperate call by a Tops employee during the mass shooting on May 14 has been fired.

The county administration terminated Sheila E. Ayers after her disciplinary hearing held Thursday.

Spokesman Daniel Meyer said a hearing was held Thursday morning for a police complaint writer, which was Ayers’ formal job title, and that the person was no longer employed with the county as of noon.

Ayers, who was an eight-year 911 call taker with Erie County’s Central Police Services Department, was working in the Enhanced 911 call center the day of the shooting.

Latisha Rogers, an assistant office manager at the Jefferson Avenue Tops location, had dialed 911 while hiding behind a customer service counter when the assailant was gunning down people in the store, ultimately killing 10 of them.

Rogers said the call taker, whom The Buffalo News learned was Ayers, reprimanded Rogers for whispering and told Rogers to speak up.

“She was yelling at me, saying, ‘Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper,'” Rogers said. “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?’ She got mad at me, hung up in my face.”

When reached by The Buffalo News, Ayers said she was sorry about what Rogers experienced during the shooting, but that Rogers has changed her story about what happened on the call “multiple times.” 

“I’m being attacked for one side of the story,” she said.

Denise Szymura, who is president of Civil Service Employees Association Local 815, which represents the county’s white-collar employees, said the union will file a grievance regarding Ayers’ termination, as it would with any CSEA employee fired by the county.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in the days after the incident that Ayers disregarded her training and that the way she responded to the caller was “completely wrong.”




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