Can we declare August 20 National Antoinette Tuff day? You may be aware that yesterday in suburban Atlanta a 20-year-old gunman entered Discovery Learning Center with an AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons and bags of ammunition. The school has students ranging in grades from preschool to grade five. The gunman, Michael Brandon Hill, is said to have entered behind a parent who had been buzzed in the front door by the school staff. He stormed into the school office and demanded a news crew film his shootout with police, where he said he intended to die. I can’t imagine how terrifying this must have been for everyone involved, and what happened next is nothing short of a miracle. According to WSB TV:
“I just started praying for him. I just started talking to him and allowing him to know some of the stories and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then let him know that he could just give himself up,” Tuff said.
“Did you tell him to put the guns down?” Moore asked.
“I did. I told him to put them on the table, empty his pockets. He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry too. But I told them, ‘He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms,” Tuff said.
“You’re the hero today,” Moore told Tuff.
“I give it all to God, I’m not the hero. I was terrified,” Tuff said.
Hero indeed. Hill was apprehended by sheriff’s deputies and U.S. marshals inside the school “without resistance.” It really sounds to me like Tuff was the one who completely prevented a horrific tragedy from occurring.
There were close to 800 students at the school and 70 staff members. I can’t imagine how things would have turned out if this hero Antoinette hadn’t talked the gunman down. Watching the video footage of all the parents and students crying is just heartbreaking. I’m so glad they are all safe but how do you let your kids go back to school after something like this? According to the news report, classes will be held at a different elementary school today and grief counselors will be on hand to offer support. I hope they all heal in time and that Antoinette knows how remarkable and brave she is.