During the deadly racially motivated May 14, 2022, mass shooting at Tops Friendly Markets store, an assistant manager tried to call for help while gunfire showered all around her. In order not to be heard by the gunman, she whispered. Instead of helping her, the dispatcher got frustrated and hung up on her.
Latisha called into Buffalo local news station WGRZ to tell her story of dropping down to the ground after she heard gunshots. She said she waited for the shooter to stop, but he just continued.
While still on the ground, Latisha called 911 and whispered into the phone because she could still hear him nearby and didn’t want him to hear her. The 911 dispatcher, however, didn’t have much patience for Latisha. She said the dispatcher yelled at her and said “Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper.”
Latisha tried to explain that she was whispering because an active shooter was still in the store, but the dispatcher just hung up on her. After that Latisha called her boyfriend so he could call 911.
“Ma’am, he’s still in the store,” Latisha recounted her story again to The Buffalo News. “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.”
People in dangerous situations often whisper to avoid detection. If a dispatcher can be patient with them, it can save the person’s life. In 2016 police were able to catch a serial killer because one of his victims was able to whisper a call to 911.
Latisha is thankfully safe now but severely traumatized by her experience. “I can’t sleep. I can eat a little bit, but I just keep hearing gunshots and just seeing the bodies,” she told The Buffalo News.