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McNair Bookkeeper Talked Gunman Into Surrendering

Antoinette Tuff described how she gently convinced the assailant that surrendering was the best option in bringing Tuesday's DeKalb school shooting incident to a peaceful conclusion.

Antoinette Tuff. Credit: DeKalb County School District
Antoinette Tuff. Credit: DeKalb County School District
A bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer how she helped calm down Tuesday’s school shooting suspect and convinced him later to relinquish his weapons and surrender.

The early afternoon shooting at the DeKalb county school fortunately concluded with no injuries and the arrest of Michael Brandon Hill. As the lead story on "World News with Diane Sawyer" Tuesday night, McNair bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff detailed the ordeal via telephone for the news anchor.

Tuff said that in watching the suspect load up with ammunition, she was witnessing an individual “ready to kill anybody that he could and take any lives he wanted to.”

But after Hill shot at arriving officers a few times, he barricaded himself in an office with Tuff and a couple of other school staffers. It was here that Tuff, who admitted to being “terrified,” but keeping her “faith in God,” began calming the assailant with encouraging stories of overcoming obstacles in her own life.

Tuff told Sawyer how she stressed that all would be OK in talking the 20-year-old gunman into putting his weapons on the desk, emptying his backpack and pockets, and then laying on the floor before officers came in and made the peaceful arrest.

Details continue to trickle in about Hill, whom neighbors told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a “quiet and polite” individual who kept to himself near the home he lived at off Decatur’s East Lilac Street, within walking distance of the school.

While neighbors found him to be more friendly than disturbed, Hill, who faces numerous charges including aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, was arrested five months ago in Henry County for alleged terroristic threats and acts.

In that case last month, he entered a negotiated plea and was sentenced to anger management and three years' probation.

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Debbie Harry August 21, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Kudos to Ms. Tuff! Not enough good words to be said about the calm and courage she displayed in terrifying circumstances.
wiggedout August 22, 2013 at 11:02 AM
The poor ole NRA will be digging into her past, I'm sure, to see if they can find some reason she should've had a gun instead of that crazy compassionate-reasoning thing she used.
Brett August 22, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Nice work Ms. Tuff. You were incredibly brave during an extremely frightening situation. Thank you.

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