On Tuesday, a gunman entered a Dekalb County, Georgia charter school with an AK-47, 500 rounds, and bad intentions. Thanks to the calm efforts of the school's bookkeeper, Antoinette Tuff, a major tragedy was avoided. It could have been a miserable scene: shortly after lunch, Michael Brandon Hill, a 20-year-old who lived nearby, entered the offices of Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy Elementary School, armed with his AK-47 and an unnamed other weapon, and demanded to speak with police, reportedly because he wanted to "watch" them die. "I saw a young man ready to kill anybody that he could," Tuff told WSB-TV's Jovita Moore last night.
Hill, who was also in possession of 500 rounds of ammo, demanded Tuff call the police, setting off a conversation between the two that would last nearly an entire hour. Tuff began relating details about her life in order to keep Hill occupied...and unable to do more damage. "I just started telling him my life story and what was going on with me," Tuff told WSB-TV. Hill told Tuff was off his meds. "The clips that go into the gun… he sat there right in front of me in the office and began to load them with bullets," Tuff explained. Hill stepped outside the building when police arrived and there was was a brief exchange of fire. He then returned to the office, where Tuff was able to convince the the troubled young man not to follow through with his plan. (Hill's brother says he suffers from ADD and bipolar disorder.) "He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry too. But I told them, ‘He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms," Tuff said. By the time police entered the office in which Hill, Tuff and other school officials were barricaded, the gunman was on the ground with his hands behind his back and his AK-47 was on the desk. No children were harmed.
"I give it all to God, I'm not the hero," Tuff said. "I was terrified."