School Climate & Safety

Bookkeeper Who Talked Down School Shooter To Be State of the Union Guest

By Evie Blad — January 28, 2014 1 min read

Antoinette Tuff, the bookkeeper who became a hero by convincing a would-be school shooter to drop his weapon at a Georgia elementary school last year, will be a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at tonight’s State of the Union, the White House announced.

The White House has been announcing guests gradually. Previous education-related guests include a District of Columbia teacher and a young STEM education enthusiast.

In the midst of the din of dozens of overlapping “national conversations” about school violence, Tuff struck a chord by calmly talking to 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill after he entered the office where she was relieving a secretary at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur with an AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammunition.

On a 911 call recording, Tuff can be heard reassuring the gunman as he put down his weapon right before police entered.

“It’s going to be alright, sweetheart. I just want you to know that I love you though, O.K. And I’m proud of you--that’s a good thing that you did giving up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”

The White House praised Tuff’s actions.

“Now, instead of being known for another tragic school shooting, August 20, 2013 is remembered for one woman’s grace under pressure,” the announcement said. “The President called Tuff after the ordeal and has said what she did was ‘remarkable.’ Antoinette has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal for civilian heroism.”

Photo: Antoinette Tuff -The White House

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.