Antoinette TuffWhen she walked into work Tuesday morning, Antoinette Tuff didn’t plan on being a hero. But after convincing the gunman who burst into the office of Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy to surrender to police, that’s exactly what many are calling her today.

The ordeal began when Michael Brandon Hill walked into the school and threatened to kill himself and others. Armed with an assault riffle, the 20-year-old held the office staff hostage and demanded they call local news stations to watch him kill police officers. Tuff sprang into action, despite telling reporters Hill “had a look on him that he was willing to kill.”

Tuff called reporters, but continued to talk to Hill to keep him calm. At one point, Tuff said the gunman tried to exit the office and go toward classrooms, but she stopped him and continued to engage him in conversation.

Tuff told the gunman her life story, and tried to convince him that he still had a way out.

ABC News reports:

“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 News. “He said he didn’t have any reason to live and that he knew he was going to die ….”

Tuff also said he apologized for what he was doing.

The school clerk said she tried to keep the assailant calm by asking him his name but, she said, at first he wouldn’t tell it to her.

Then, he began listening to her tell her life story. She said she told him about how her marriage fell apart after 33 years and the “roller coaster” of opening her own business.

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

Then Tuff made the request that she said helped end the standoff. She said she asked the suspect to put his weapons down, empty his pockets and backpack and lay on the floor.

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

Although she remained calm and safely got Hill to turn himself in to authorities, Tuff, the school’s bookkeeper, says she isn’t a hero.

“I give it all to God,” she told WSB-TV. “I’m not the hero. I was terrified.”

  • Chelle

    Wow! Can that sista get a raise? God was speaking through her. I’m glad no one was hurt.

  • Guest1234

    Amazing story. Incredible woman! I’m terribly disappointed that the mainstream media has entirely ignored this very important and illustrative story. (And we all know why. Here in America, school shootings don’t matter when the kids are black, and black women can’t be heroes, only punching bags).

    I hope President Obama calls this woman and brings her heroism to the forefront. It’s a very important illustration of the very best America has to offer. My kudos is so paltry in comparison to what this woman deserves. But I offer them anyway. Kudos. Thank you, Clutch, for sharing this important story.

  • Nadell

    Bless Antoinette Tuff! She was an assigned, divined angel called for duty that day for that young man. WOW.
    She credits all to God….she is giving me inspiration this afternoon!

  • Mimi

    I’ve been hearing about this incident since the day it happened. I guess it depends on wherever you live.

  • Treece

    Wow, God Bless this woman! If not for her, I dread to think what could’ve occurred that day….gives me chills. Hero indeed!

  • geenababe

    She did a brave thing most people would have been hiding instead of trying to talk down the gun man.

  • Anthony

    Ms. Tuff has the right name! This is the kind of heroism that macho types can’t understand. Instead of pulling out a gun and copying an action movie, she used her intelligence to talk a potential mass murderer out his plans. I don’t think it’s an accident that a woman did this instead of a man. I want more people to look inside of themselves and use this kind of courage instead going to violence.

  • GlowBelle

    Bravo to the brave Antoinette Tuff!! I don’t care if she doesn’t call herself a hero, I do. She saved the school by being calm and thinking rationally. Also there was something divine in the mix, a real miracle, and I’m sure of that as a believer. It amazes me that there are moments like this where sudden bravery appears and the words and actions just fall into place. After all the bad news we’ve been hearing about it’s a relief to hear that even though this had a set-up to be a tragic disaster it ended up being a happy ending.

  • lil ray

    Yes she is a HERO and thank God no one was hurt.

  • Marisa

    BEST LAST NAME EVER AWARD WINNER MS TUFF hell yeah this lady better get her national respect as they would “their” so called heros. We see how they made a mockery out of Charles they better do right by Ms Tuff, this lady talking this dude down while be bussin shots. She should be the biggest trending topic around but, some folks this is a struggle a sista who is a bonafide heroine and there wasn’t twerking, neck rollin stereotype in the vicinity damn whats the press/public gonna do lol. Also how the hell this nutjob felon even have access to those weapons he was there to do damage to those kids and staff, so shout out to Ms Tuff.

  • phylecia2

    A good guy with a gun will NOT stop a bad guy with a gun. It’s words. This lady is my hero. Has anyone started a charity fund to get this lady a vacation?

  • Pepper

    Her chocolate….velvety skin is BEAUTIFUL

  • binks

    She is a hero in every sense of the word. LOVE her and her nerves of steel. You don’t have to be armed with a gun, take someone out, etc. to be a hero. She kept this incident from being a tragedy and from becoming another senseless violent news story.

  • JN

    This woman is amazing!

  • lea

    so the gunman just walked into school and nobody had a raised suspicion?applaud the women for appropriate action …talking , words are powerful. so is prayer, God bless her. i hope they get metal detectors and giver her a raise or vacay

  • foreverblue72

    What are you talking about? It’s on EVERY news channel! She’s my hero…I’m a teacher…

  • Miriam

    Was it the President of the NRA who said that the only thing to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun? Thank God Mrs Tuff did not have a gun. She used her God given intelligence and caring attitude.

  • lola289

    God Bless her! #HERO

  • RenJennM

    Wow! What an amazing woman! Thank God for people like her. She was so brave. She has no idea how many lives she saved.

  • mEE

    yea they’ve been playing it like every half hour during the news broadcast since it happened. and I don’t live anywhere near Georgia

  • Knotty Natural

    Same thing I thought when I saw her!

  • MommieDearest

    Yes! Flawless. *jealous*

  • MommieDearest

    There are no words adequate enough to express the magnitude of what this woman has done. God is good. I really hope there’s a fund or something set up for her to give her a vacation/reward. *off to google*

  • niksmit

    Ms. Tuff is humble and mistaken. This is what real heroism is: facing your fear and doing something bold in the service of others anyway. It’s admirable when someone with training and skill does what they know, but it’s something else to step out on faith.

  • KDJW

    True definition of a HERO!!!!

  • MommieDearest

    Yep. They are still running this story every hour on HLN and CNN 2 days later. They are revealing more details about the 911 call.

  • Nadell

    She needs to cover a magazine (People, Ebony, Jet, Essence, Life) be invited by the President to be honored.
    Antoinette Tuff saved 100s of lives (the young man, many students + police officers) and her name isn’t trending nor is her face all across my TV in the news?!?!?

  • Mr. Man

    Wow she is amazing indeed. This woman saved that school, children, staff members, possibly police who would otherwise be dead right now with grieving family members, they all have this beautiful woman to thank. If my child went to that school I along with all the other parents would ask that at the very least honor her with naming the school auditorium after her or something. She saved that school from mass death.

  • noirluv45

    Thanking God everyday for Ms. Tuff. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if she had not taken such a powerful stand against this gunman.

    Like others have said, she doesn’t consider herself a hero, but she’s the personification of one.

    God bless you, Ms. Tuff!

  • MommieDearest

    “I hope President Obama calls this woman and brings her heroism to the forefront.”

    She was on TJMS this morning and talked about the phone call that she received from President Obama yesterday. I’m so proud of this woman I could just burst. *cheesing*

  • The Other Jess

    Beautiful story. Glad she made it out alive and well!

  • Amor

    Some of my friends in college never even heard about her. This lady needs more publicity. She is a history maker and everyone can learn a lot from her. She deserves more publicity, a raise, and more.

Latest Stories

Cheers! 30 Not-As-Obvious Occasions That Call For Champagne


Maker of Infamous ‘Sizzurp’ Takes it Off the Market


How To Rock: Black Women In Orange Lipstick


Newsflash: Most People Aren’t Down With the ‘Swirl’

More in Antoinette Tuff, hero, school shooting
Breaking News: 14 Year Old Shot During Atlanta School Shooting
Hero Status: NFL Baller Rescues Passengers From Overturned Van