Brave Georgia School Clerk Stops Shooting By Talking to Gunman About Her Failed Marriage

This Just In 9

Georgia Shooting suspect Michael Brandon HillEverybody's talking about the Georgia school shooting that wasn't after a man walked into the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur armed to the nines. Cops say Michael Brandon Hill, 20, planned a Sandy Hook-style attack on the children of the school. But it didn't happen. Why? Because one school clerk is a hero. Because one school clerk did something unexpected in the face of a gunman.

Antoinette Tuff showed compassion.

Not the easiest thing to summon for a would-be school shooter, I know. The photos of Adam Lanza still turn my stomach.

Tuff told Diane Sawyer last night that she tried to calm the shooter down, eventually launching into her own tale of tragedies past, from her marriage falling apart to a failed business venture. Where she could have gotten angry, instead she saw a chance to relate as one human being to another:

I told him, "OK, we all have situations in our lives. I went through a tragedy myself. It was going to be OK. If I could recover, he could too."

The strategy was risky. But it worked. The alleged gunman put down his weapons and surrendered to police without killing a single person -- all at Tuff's request.

Tuff is being treated as a hero today for stopping what could have been a heartbreaking tragedy, but she's heroic as much for the way she did it as the fact that it was done.

It's easy to get mad. It's easy to seethe with hate. Just look at the Adam Lanzas or the Michael Brandon Hills of the world.

It's not so easy to look evil in the eyes and see a human being. But let's not forget that often human beings do bad things as a cry in the dark, an attempt to get the attention of other human beings -- albeit negative attention. When someone feels like they're so disconnected from the world, that there is no compassion left, they're more apt to do something desperate. Turning them around isn't always easy; sometimes they're too far gone.

But sometimes all it takes is a little human kindness and compassion.

What do you think of this brave clerk's move? What would you have done in her shoes?


Image via police

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Jacee... Jacee2348

I call B.S. on this story - it is totally conflicting with the link you provided to the story - where several shots were fired at officers.  Another article on confirms that shots were fired and that the gunman said upfront that he was not there to harm children or staff, but wanted news stations to film him harming police officers.  While the secretary may have talked to him, shots were fired.  Someone seeking to be a hero and gain their 15 minutes of fame...

Jeremy Gray

This woman is definitely brave knowing she was sacrificing her own personal safety for that of the children and staff of the school. I love hearing news like this. I know some folks are freaking out about 'another incident'. But this one can be chalked up on the scoreboard as a win for humanity! I'd also like to point out that the boy is a hero, too. He succumbed to anger to such a degree that he showed up ready to end lives. It took something strong within himself to hear her through the cloud of rage he was in. Bravo for both of them! This isn't a tragedy or an averted tragedy more than it is a victory!

nonmember avatar openeyed

The human compassion the clerk showed, that something within this kids LIFE affected him causing him to be angry is heroic. The negative affects of our own violent culture on the mental health of our youth is coming back to haunt us. Our extremist extolling of "virtue" over bombs, guns, war, killing, “revenge”, media manipulated myths of how some other nation is trying to "harm us" a marketing spin for our war economy rather than a peace economy. USA spends more than half the world combined on war/weapons under deeply hidden political agenda promoting all those "terrorist threats". We give bravados and hero worship to it all thinking we are "respecting" our relatives before us. No matter what good deeds stopping oppression abroad in past, it is not sustainable going forward. The CT school shooting, this and many violent episodes are directly linked to this mindset. The "evil" does not start with the likes of Adam Lanza, who used his mother's military style weapons, was addicted to violent war videos while given psychotropic drugs scientifically linked to violent thoughts!Time for deep value change, the myth we are "defending the constitution" by bombing nations to oblivion chanting marketing slogans like "freedom isn't free" imposing extremist political viewpoints. This Brandon was also likely negatively influenced by our extremist aggressive foreign policy. It’s not a perfect world, but thinking US foreign policy is making it better is unrealistic

Teresa Atwood

God bless the clerk--she had more sense then a lot of people!

Vanessa Poholek Fasanella

It sounds like this young man had some doubts about what he was going to do, unlike the Sandy Hook shooter, who did not. The young man responsible for the Sandy Hook slayings shot everyone he came in contact with, so this clerk would have been gunned down. I'd say this time it was a combination of luck, love, and doubt; and definitely a miracle.

the4m... the4mutts

Smh.... did you even read the original new reports?

Knitt... KnittingMomC

 I do not think that Ms. Tuff was trying to look for 15 minutes of fame -- just prevent another Sandy Hook-like situation from happening.  I hope that the Governor of GA will recognize her for her bravery, even though I know this is the last thing that Ms. Tuff would want.  She seems to be a very humble woman.  I only wish her the best! 

Linda Johns

God bless the lady, and I do mean LADY! She is a lady to be admired, I don't know if I could have done anything like that. I just hope everyone appreciates how many lives she saved especial the children! I pray that someone will think to set up a reward fund for her!

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