"I'm in the front office. Oh! He just went outside and start shooting. Can I run?" said Antoinette Tuff on a 911 call while a gunman was inside the Atlanta-area elementary school where she works.
But, Tuff did not run. Instead, she stayed inside the front office of Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning, in Decatur, Georgia...and passed the gunman's orders to the 911 dispatcher.
"He says he don't care if he die. He don't have nothing to live for," Tuff told the dispatcher. "Tell me why he wanted a TV camera to come out there to the school," said the dispatcher. "Because he was gonna end his life and take the cops and everybody with him," Tuff added. "That's what he said?" the dispatcher asked. "Yeah," Tuff answered.
With the students on lockdown, police and parents fearing the worst, Tuff talked to the gunman, 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill, about his problems and about hers.
"Don't feel bad, baby. My husband just left me after 33 years," Tuff said on the phone while talking to Hill.
"I realized at that time that it was bigger than me. He was really just a hurting young man, so I just started praying for him," Tuff said. "I can help you. Want me to talk to them?" she asked Hill during the call.
And, she finally helped convince Hill to surrender peacefully. "We not gonna hate you, baby. It's a good thing that you giving up, so we not gonna hate you," Tuff told Hill.
Still on the phone with the dispatcher, Tuff kept Hill calm as he lay on the floor waiting for the police to come inside. "He's just got his phone. All he's got is his phone," she told the dispatcher. "Let me tell you something, baby. I ain't never been so scared in all the days of my life," Tuff told the dispatcher. "Me neither, but you did great," the dispatcher told Tuff.
"Wooo, Jesus!" Tuff said.
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