Last Tuesday afternoon, school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff of the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy spent an hour on the phone with the Atlanta police as she faced gunman Michael Brandon Hill. With the police on the line, she calmly convinced Hill to surrender his weapon. Hill expressed to Tuff that he was off his medication, and in exchange, Tuff attempted to calm Hill with personal stories, counseling the man not to end his own life.
AND IT WORKED. Tuff courageously put her life in danger to save an entire children’s school. As a result, yesterday was NOT yet another day that will live in infamy. Can we get a huge BRAVA for this woman?!
Only one shot was fired in the school, between Hill and police, and no one was hurt.
While the 20-year-old Hill was armed with an AK-47, he told Tuff that no one loved him, noting that he should have gone to the mental institution because he was not mentally stable. After Hill expressed his concerns, Tuff told the gunman that at one point in her life, when her husband left her, she had attempted to commit suicide. She also told him about her mentally disabled son.
After Hill came to an understanding and decided to surrender himself, Tuff told him, “It’s gonna be all right, sweetie.” Tuff continued to say, “I just want you to know that I love you, ok? I’m proud of you. And don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”
“That’s a good thing that you’ve just given up. We won’t hate you,” said Tuff.
Hill was previously arrested in March of 2013 on a charge of “terroristic threats and acts,” as CNN reported.
There were times when I was listening to the call and I found myself wanting to cry. I couldn’t even fathom being as composed as Tuff was as she talked a gunman out of shooting up an elementary school. Knowing myself, I would’ve flailed around the office and then told him to not hurt me. But Tuff was so brave during those recorded 24 minutes, and she was so inspiring to the young shooter.
This story is another one for the books about how words and reaching out to the mentally ill can save so many more lives than putting more guns in schools.
You can listen to the 911 call that Tuff placed below.
Photo via CNN