(Updated Aug. 21, 2013) A 20-year-old white, male gunman, dressed all in black, is in police custody after opening fire with an AK-47 inside McNair Discovery Learning Academy near Atlanta, in DeKalb County, Ga. on the afternoon of August 20. The gunman has been identified as Michael Brandon Hill.
Hill barricaded himself inside the school’s main office and fired on a SWAT team rushing the school; but no-one was injured according to USA Today.
The terror for parents waiting at a nearby Wal-Mart for their children after the school went into lockdown mode was reminiscent of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. eight months ago.
While inside the school, Hill demanded of the school staff that a local TV station and police be called to report that people were being killed at the school. He also talked to family members on a phone.
A school clerk in the main office, Antoinette Tuff, is credited with “talking the shooter down,” by trying to connect with him emotionally and saying that everyone has problems, that she herself just survived a crisis, and that eventually everything would turn out OK.
“I just kept talking,” she said.
The Washington Post quoted Ms. Tuff as saying:
“He had a look on him that he was willing to kill.”
“He said he didn’t have any reason to live, and he knew he was going to die today.”
In a calm, cool, and collected manner, Tuff spoke with Hill, calmed him down, mediated between he and a 911 operator who had a direct connection to the SWAT team, and eventually got Hill to empty his pockets of all weapons - and surrender.
Antoinette got the gunman to lie down on the floor with his hands behind his back so that he could be arrested without further incident.
Antoinette Tuff is being credited as a hero and saving the day at the McNair Discovery Learning Academy. Without her intervention, things would have been a lot worse that day.
CNN referred to Tuff as a “one person crisis management team.”
You can hear Tuff’s complete conversation with the 911 operator as she orchestrated Hill’s surrender and eventual arrest.
In addition to the AK-47, Hill was said to have a large cache of magazines on his person and “other weapons.” We now know that he surrendered at least 500 rounds of ammunition.
“Thank you Jesus,” Antoinette prayed after the arrest.
“I give it all to God. I’m not the hero. I was terrified,” Tuff said.
The school, an elementary charter school in the Candler-McAfee area of DeKalb County, opened five years ago and has an enrollment of 870, according to the school website.
CNN reported that officials are investigating whether or not the gunman’s car, which was parked outside of the school, contained any explosive devices.
Michael Brandon Hill has been charged with assault against an officer, making threats, and illegally possessing a firearm.
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