Report: 911 dispatcher took too long to process deadly shooting call



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A 911 dispatcher took too long to process a call after a deadly shooting, according to an internal review by the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

The victim, Mireya Alvarado, was shot and killed in a food truck on Colonial Drive in April after two men burst in demanding money.

Her friend Rene Martinez placed the call moments after Alvarado was shot.

"En Espanol, una ambulancia por favor," Martinez yelled into the phone, asking for an ambulance, moments after Alvarado was shot.

The dispatcher, Janice Surkyn, didn't understand him and mistook him for a woman.

“You need police?" asked the dispatcher.

"Yes," said Martinez.

"At what address?" asked the dispatcher.

"En la Semoran," responded Martinez.

"Ma'am ... does anyone there speak English?" asked the dispatcher.

Speaking Spanish, Martinez told WFTV's Nancy Alvarez he frantically searched for someone to help him explain to the dispatcher what had happened.

The Sheriff's Office works with a language line that has interpreters on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the service wasn't used.

The internal review showed Surkyn was faulted for taking too long to process the call, and for asking a witness to return to the crime scene to "see what's going on."

Records show it took her another minute and 26 seconds to dispatch paramedics, even after Surkyn realized someone had been shot.

The Sheriff's Office is working to make delays like that don't happen again, according to the report.

Surkyn, who has been a 911 operator since 2005, received a written reprimand.

Alvarado's grieving husband said he just wants changes to ensure delays caused by a language barrier never happen again.

Adjustments have been made to speed up the connection to the language line, and 911 operators now have specific guidelines on how much time to spend with a non-English speaking caller, according to the sheriff's office report.

Sheriff's officials said if a functional dialogue isn't reached within 30 seconds, help must be brought on the line.

Surkyn has been a 911 operator since 2005 and had never been disciplined before.

She received a written reprimand for her handling of the food truck shooting call.

The men responsible for killing Alvarado still have not been arrested.