School bookkeeper talked gunman down in Atlanta school shooting

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 11:28 EDT
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Antoinette Tuff via screencap
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A courageous school employee averted disaster on Tuesday by calmly talking down a man armed with an assault rifle who said that he has going to die and take as many others as possible with him. According to ABC News, Antoinette Tuff, the bookkeeper at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Center, convinced 20-year-old gunman Michael Brandon Hill to empty his pockets and backpack of ammunition and lie down on the floor so that police could take him into custody without incident.

Tuff said to ABC, however, that she isn’t a hero.

“I give it all to God,” she said. “I’m not the hero. I was terrified.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Hill entered the school armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and barricaded himself into the front office. He fired at police gathering outside and ordered school personnel to alert media outlets.

“He said he was going to end his life and take all the cops and everybody with him…He had a look on him that he was willing to kill and matter of fact he said it,” Tuff told ABC. “He said he didn’t have any reason to live and that he knew he was going to die.”

He reportedly also apologized for what he was about to do.

Tuff tried to calm the suspect down by asking his name and trying to speak to him as a person. She explained that she too has had struggles in life, including the dissolution of her 33-year marriage after she and her husband tried to open a business together.

“I told him, ‘OK, we all have situations in our lives. I went through a tragedy myself,’” she told ABC. “It was going to be OK. If I could recover, he could too.”

It was after that she convinced him to disarm and surrender.

“I told the police he was giving himself up. I just talked him through it,” she said.

Hill was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats. The school’s 800 students were evacuated and none were injured.

Watch an interview with Antoinette Tuff, embedded below via the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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