Bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff faced gunman Michael Brandon Hill in an office inside Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, an Atlanta school filed with approximately 870 children. She calmly spoke face-to-face with the gunman while she stayed on the phone with police for nearly a half hour, ultimately convincing the shooter to surrender.
The police audio footage revealed how Tuff carefully engaged with the Hill for nearly a half hour, using a calm sense of human compassion to keep the situation at bay. Hill told her he had stopped taking his medication, and didn't have a desire to live. Making sure to maintain composure while dealing with the extraordinary circumstances, she calmly told Hill he could surrender. "We're not going to hate you," she told him, saying, "we all go through things in life."
Tuff artfully communicated with the gunman while on the call, working with police but promising Hill she would ensure he was OK. "I can help you," she told him, explaining that she herself faced obstacles in life that were difficult to overcome, including a suicide attempt. "But look at me now," she said, "I'm still working and everything is OK."
Hill ultimately layed on the floor at Tuff's request, and surrendered himself to police. Tuff expressed how proud she was of him, but still made sure that children in the school remained secure until police arrived. "It's gonna be all right, sweetie," Tuff told the shooter after the ordeal came to an end. "I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? I'm proud of you. That's a good thing that you've just given up. And don't worry about it. You're gonna be OK."
"You did a great job," the 9-11 dispatcher told Tuff as police took over. Tuff's voice finally began to quiver as she responded, "Let me tell you something, baby. I've never been so scared in all the days of my life."