Church praises McNair shooting hero for courage, compassion
Ken Watts | 8/27/2013, 11:34 a.m.
DECATUR Antoinette Tuff, The McNair Discovery Learning Academy bookkeeper who calmly talked a heavily armed intruder into surrendering to police on Aug. 20, was honored by her church Sunday. 20-year old Michael Brandon Hill is in the DeKalb Jail charged with aggravated assault on a police officer. making terroristic threats and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Tuff attended a service at The Way, The Truth and The Life Christian Center on Miller Road in Decatur, her home church, where her uncle Ulysses Tuff is pastor and her aunt Deborah Tuff is co-pastor. Pastor Ulysses Tuff. Antoinette also received a proclamation from U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, (D-4th District) declaring August 25, Anoinette Tuff day in the 4th District.
“It is truly remarkable that the cool, calm and fast-thinking of Ms. Tuff may very well have saved our community and the nation from yet another unspeakable national tragedy involving innocent children,” Johnson said in a statement. “For her poise and composure beyond the call of duty, I say thank you to Antoinette, DeKalb County thanks you, Georgia thanks you and a grateful nation thanks you.”
Rev. Ulysses Tuff praised his niece for her courage and compassion, saying she could have escaped during the early moments of the siege when the gunman turned away to fire shots at law officers who were outside the school.
“But she stayed and finished God’s assignment, even at the risk of death, said Tuff. ”She never said she wasn’t scared, but she connected with that young man through genuine compassion. She was able to do that because she was anchored in God,”
Police say Hill was armed an assault rifle, several other weapons and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition.
Antoinette tuff could be heard over a 911 call talking to the intruder.
“It’s going to be all right sweetie,” she told Hill. “I just want you to know that I love you though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing that you’re just giving up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”
Antoinette Tuff’s actions are credited with saving the lives of more than 800 pre-K through 5th grade school children, plus faculty and staff.
“She kept him talking, made him feel like he was not totally alone and that his life was not hopeless,” said Johnson. “In the end after a harrowing encounter where he threatened her with a gun, she calmly engaged him and he finally surrendered without anyone getting hurt.”
Tuff did not speak during the church service and was not available afterwards. But Tuff said in interviews last week that she was terrified during the confrontation and was grateful that she was able to get through to the gunman.
“We are so proud of her,” Ulysses Tuff said of his niece on Sunday. “We’ve always known she was special. Now the world knows.”