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911 call taker accused of hanging up on Tops call fired


Erie County officials say a 911 call taker has been fired after hanging up on a call coming from inside the Tops store where 10 people were killed last month.


The call taker had been placed on administrative leave, but the county was pushing for her firing. Last month, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said her actions were “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.”


According to a report by The Buffalo News, the police complaint writer asked why the caller, a Tops employee, was whispering, before hanging up on her.


The hearing happened behind closed doors, in a private hearing, however county officials would not reveal where the hearing took place.


“It is the priority of Erie County, the county executive and the honorable body of the Legislature to make sure that everybody that has a responsibility in terms of public safety is working for the county is doing that to their utmost ability and it is obvious that that call was not handled in a professional way,” said Legislator April Baskin of Erie County.


Baskin says she’s been in touch with the county executive’s office on this matter, the call taker’s entire record was taken into consideration during the hearing, not just the call from Tops.


“We’re going to 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,” Baskin said.


Baskin and Legislator Howard Johnson, also have concerns about what happened last week, during the birthday party for a surviving victim of the Tops mass shooting. A 911 call from the party for a woman who went into cardiac arrest was cut off by a medical emergency call taker, who has since been fired.


“I have asked and Legislator Johnson have asked for an investigation not just into that particular call taker and the ongoings of that call, but the entire department and identifying how many disconnections are happening,” Baskin said.


Transcripts and recordings of the calls still have not been released. News 4 has filed a public records request to know how the calls were handled.


Meanwhile, the accused mass shooter has been indicted on the following charges:


  • Domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate in the first degree

  • Murder in the first degree (10 counts)

  • Murder in the second degree, as a hate crime (10 counts)

  • Attempted murder in the second degree, as a hate crime (3 counts)

  • Criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, an armed felony


He appeared in court on Thursday afternoon and is scheduled to return on July 7. He has been remanded without bail.

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