Buffalo Tops worker previously survived another shooting

The Buffalo supermarket worker who whispered to 911 about the unfolding massacre before the dispatcher hung up on her had previously survived another mass shooting — in which her brother was killed.

Almost 12 years ago, Latisha Rogers, the assistant office manager at the Tops Friendly Markets store, and her brother, Danyell Mackin, were at the City Grill when a man opened fire, killing him and three others, CNN reported.

Four other people were wounded in the attack, including one who succumbed to the injuries years later, according to the news outlet.

“I’m just back at another massacre and going through this again, trying to find a healing process,” Rogers told CNN on Thursday.

In addition to the 10 killed, including an armed security guard, three people were wounded. Eleven of the 13 victims were black.

“It’s just constant, just shooting. He won’t stop. It’s constantly going,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday, referring to Gendron, who has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge.

Latisha Rogers called 911 about the massacre at the Tops supermarket.
Facebook / Latisha Rogers

“I look up out the window and I saw this customer, this lady with her shopping cart — she just stopped — and she just had this really funny look on her face and then she just turned to run,” Rogers said.

“Next thing you know, you just keep hearing boom, boom, boom. All we could do was just drop to the ground,” she said, adding that she took cover behind the counter, “praying that he didn’t see me.”

Rogers said she grabbed her phone and dialed 911.

Rogers previously survived a shooting at City Grille almost 12 years ago.

“I proceeded to whisper because I didn’t know how many people there were in the store or anything, I didn’t want to be heard,” she said.  

“‘Please send help, there’s a person in the store shooting,’” Rogers said she told the dispatcher, who she said responded by asking, “What? I can’t hear you.”

The dispatcher added: “Why are you whispering? You don’t have to whisper, they can’t hear you,” Rogers said.

“She said something and then she hung up the phone,” added Rogers, who said she then switched her phone to silent in case someone tried to reach her during the incident.

Suspect Payton S. Gendron in court on May 19.

Rogers told CNN she then called her boyfriend and told him – also in a whisper – to call 911 to report the shooting.

The gunfire soon ended and the store went “dead silent,” she told CNN.

“It’s just a complete, eerie, creepy, silence in the store and you can hear him walking around,” Rogers said. “It just sounded like he was walking like on glass, you could hear it crunching under his feet.”

She said she remained hunkered down until she heard police arrive.

“It wasn’t a good sight at all. The first person that I saw was the security guard, Aaron Salter. And I knew it was him, by his uniform,” an emotional Rogers said about the scene of the carnage.

Detectives gather evidence at the scene of the shooting.

“To see what I saw, I would never want nobody to ever experience that, ever,” she added.

On Wednesday, County Executive Mark Poloncarz told reporters that the 911 dispatcher’s conduct was “inappropriate.”

“We teach our 911 call takers that if someone is whispering, it probably means they are in trouble,” he said, according to CNN, which reported that a hearing will be held about the unnamed operator on May 30.

“Our intention is to terminate the 911 call taker who acted totally inappropriately — not following protocol,” Poloncarz said at the press conference.

Erie County spokesman Peter Anderson said this week that the police response time to the attack was unaffected by the 911 operator’s dismissive actions.

But in her interview on CNN, Rogers said the woman should be fired.

In addition to the 10 killed, including an armed security guard, three people were wounded.

“Right is right and wrong is wrong,” she said. “It was just like, I was just bothering her, and I feel like when she hung up on me, she never called back.

“I feel like she left me to die, and I legit thought I was going to die that day,” she added.

Erie County officials have said the 911 incident was being investigated. 

“The individual who took that call is now on administrative leave pending a disciplinary hearing which should happen within a couple of weeks,” county officials told WGRZ in a statement.

Other calls made through the county’s 911 communication center were properly dispatched, leading to rapid responses, the station reported.

Rogers said earlier that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to return to work at the supermarket.

“That store is very important to that community,” the 13-year employee told the Buffalo News. “I didn’t realize how important it was until I started working there. They love that store. That is just a traumatic experience to have in that community like that.”

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