BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — We’re learning more about the 911 call taker who was fired over her handling of calls related to the Buffalo mass shooting.

According to information obtained by News 4 through a FOIL request, Sheila Ayers was working as a police complaint writer for Erie County during the afternoon of the shooting, which happened on May 14.

At the Tops store on Jefferson Avenue, 10 people were fatally shot and three others were injured. Every person killed was Black. The accused shooter is a suspected white supremacist.

Ayers, who was subsequently placed on administrative leave, was fired less than three weeks later on June 2. A memorandum from the Erie County Department of Central Police Services details her conduct on May 14.

Ayers received at least six calls related to the shooting. At roughly 2:30 p.m., a man called, telling her multiple shots had been fired at the store. The memorandum says Ayers talked over him and disconnected the call with minimal information.

Then, two minutes later, Ayers took a call from a woman who the memorandum described as “speaking quietly, calmly and clearly.”

“PCW Ayers told the caller that she didn’t know why the caller was whispering. The caller then spoke louder to say someone was in the store shooting when PCW Ayers spoke over her. The caller was trying to ask for assistance when PCW Ayers said ‘Nope, you’re going to answer my questions, if they can’t see you, they can’t hear you.’ There is a clear gunshot in the background of the call and PCW Ayers continued to treat the caller poorly. The caller was requesting someone to ‘please come’ when PCW Ayers hung up on her.”

Memorandum from Erie County Department of Central Police Services

Following this, Ayers took three more calls and told those on the other end that police were on the way, but did not attempt to gather certain pieces of information, according to the memorandum.

  • In the first of those three, Ayers’ record of disciplinary action says she didn’t ask for more information for public safety and first responder safety.
  • In the second, Ayers was described as having failed to ask for more information on the caller’s knowledge of the situation.
  • And in the third, the memorandum says that after Ayers told the caller police were “on the way or there, actually,” she hung up without asking if the caller had any information.

Another call was received by Ayers from someone who was off-site. That person had said they were told of the situation from someone who was there. And according to the memorandum, Ayers told the caller “We don’t need anyone calling from off-site.”

As of noon on June 2, Ayers was no longer employed as a police complaint writer for Erie County. This wasn’t the first disciplinary action taken against Ayers, who received an oral warning for abusing sick leave in the past. Her record of disciplinary action also says she received a written warning in the past, as well as a suspension, but it’s not clear what those matters were related to.

Ayers refused to sign the document listing the reasons she was fired. Since then, the union representing her, CSEA, has filed a grievance in an attempt to get Ayers her job back.

“The standards of reasonableness and fairness were not followed when Ms. Sheila Ayers was terminated without following progressive discipline,” the grievance says.

The union is seeking her reinstatement, as well as full back pay.

Since the shooting, the Jefferson Avenue Tops has remained closed. It’s expected to reopen by the end of July and renovations at the store have been ongoing.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.