Tough, Chatty Clerk Thwarted Ga. School Gunman

She kept him talking, persuaded him to put gun down

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 21, 2013 1:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – There could have been a bloodbath at an Atlanta-area elementary school yesterday were if not for the efforts of aptly-named school clerk Antoinette Tuff. When a man dressed in black sneaked into the school armed with an AK-47 and took Tuff and several other employees hostage, she kept him talking—and away from the school's 800 students—while police arrived, the New York Times reports. The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill, was "ready to kill anybody that he could and take any lives he wanted to," Tuff tells ABC.

"I just started telling him my life story and what was going on with me," Tuff says. "I told him, 'OK, we all have situations in our lives. It was going to be OK." The gunman left the building to fire a few shots at police when they arrived, but when he want back inside, Tuff persuaded him to put his weapon down and empty his pockets of ammunition. The suspect was taken into custody without a fight and no students were harmed. Police are still trying to determine a motive and whether Hill has any links to the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy.

This March 2013 booking photo provided by the Henry County Sheriff's Office shows Michael Brandon Hill.
This March 2013 booking photo provided by the Henry County Sheriff's Office shows Michael Brandon Hill.   (AP Photo/Henry County Sheriff's Office)
Relatives are overcome with emotion as the buses with their loved ones pull into the parking lot of a Walmart in Decatur, Georgia yesterday.
Relatives are overcome with emotion as the buses with their loved ones pull into the parking lot of a Walmart in Decatur, Georgia yesterday.   (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ben Gray)
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