Georgia School 911 Call: Antoinette Tuff a 'Hero,' Says Dispatcher

Image: Georgia School 911 Call: Antoinette Tuff a 'Hero,' Says Dispatcher Antoinette Tuff, left, and Michael Brandon Hill.

Friday, 23 Aug 2013 02:39 PM

By Robin Farmer

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A Georgia elementary school employee who made a 911 call while dealing with a gunman carrying an AK-47 is being called heroic for her quick thinking and calm disposition by the dispatcher who handled her call.

Antoinette Tuff, a front-office worker at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy just outside Atlanta, acted as the go-between when Michael Brandon Hill slipped inside the school, and then allegedly fired at approaching police outside.

Despite the gunfire, no one was hurt. Tuff played a major role, said dispatcher Kendra McCray, who fielded her 911 call, CNN reported.

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McCray described Tuff as a "true hero" for being courageous, calm, and personable.

"You did a great job," McCray said, shortly after the two met in person for the first time Thursday for an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper. "You made my job a lot easier."

In a recording released by officials in DeKalb County, the 911 call captured a few of the gunshots Hill fired at police before he returned to the school office and Tuff’s cool demeanor as a go-between for Hill and police.

“It's going to be all right, sweetie,” she tells Hill at one point in the call. “I just want you to know 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."

She even offered to walk outside with him in surrender so the police wouldn't shoot.

Hill had a history of mental illness and violent outbursts, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Tuff told the gunman that she had been down before before picked herself up and he could, too.

“I thought the same thing, you know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me," she said. "But look at me now. I'm still working and everything is OK.”

As Tuff kept the gunman calm, she signaled a code so her two counterparts could trigger a phone tree to tell teachers to lock doors and send students to safety.

An employee at the school for three years, Tuff is a strong leader, Brian Bolden, the school principal, told CNN.

“Her name, Antoinette Tuff, says everything about her. Tough. She has always been that way, from the first time I met her.”

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