Compassion May Have Saved Lives - Antoinette Tuff's Story - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Araksya Karapetyan

Compassion May Have Saved Lives - Antoinette Tuff's Story

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Earlier this week an elementary school in Georgia was stormed by a gunman, but fortunately the incident ended in the best possible way- no one lost their life. But really, the reason everyone is still talking about this story is because of one woman-  Antoinette Tuff.

Antoinette is the bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy. She came face-to-face with the suspect, Michael Brandon Hill, and talked him into surrendering after a brief standoff with police.

Hill told her he was off his medication for a mental disorder, and started to share his troubles. In exchange Antoinette opened up too, she told stories of heartbreak from her own life, how her husband left her after 26 years of marriage, how she contemplated suicide herself at a time, and talked about her son who has a number of disabilities.

There is no doubt she played a huge role in how this whole thing ended. It was her quick thinking that avoided a major tragedy.

Online, people are saying Antoinette should be awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. On Facebook and Twitter, praise is overflowing, calling her a true hero.

She not only managed to negotiate with a dangerous and unpredictable man, but she also managed to use kindness and sensitivity to connect with a very troubled man.She was able to relate to him, to really listen to him, to show him she cared. It's absolutely unbelievable how calm, cool, collected, clear, direct, and surprisingly in control she remained during the entire ordeal. Something gave her the strength at that moment to pull off what she managed to pull off.

If you haven't heard the 911 call, you can find it online, it's all over the place. Listening to it will give you goose bumps and inspire you.

Here is some of what she said: "It's going to be all right, sweetie... 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. No, you don't want that. You going to be OK...."

"We not going to hate you, baby. It's a good thing that you're giving up, so we're not going to hate you."

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

Only when it's all over does reality set in. You hear it in her voice that she was in fact scared, nervous, and down right terrified- basically all the things any of us would be feeling when faced with terror.

"I've never been so scared in all the days of my life. Oh, Jesus."

Now looking back, she says God was able to use her that day, "It's an honor to be used. I was at the right place."

Antoinette has worked for the DeKalb County school district for eight years, three of them at McNair Elementary, in fact she is one of three staffers at the school who is specifically trained for dangerous situations like the one she faced on Tuesday. Still with all that training, she probably never imagined she would be relaying messages between a gunman armed with 500 rounds of ammunition and a 911 dispatcher at school one day.

What's touching about Antoinette is that when you listen to the call, you get the sense that she wasn't just saying things in order to convince the suspect to put the gun down. She seemed to truly believe it all in her heart. She was authentic and genuine. She now calls him a "hurting soul" and you may be surprised to hear she wants to keep in touch with him, maybe even visit him, to see how he's doing.

In watching a number of interviews with Antoinette, it's clear she has a strong connection with her faith, and credits her success that day to God. She says God gave her the strength to do what she did that day, to say what she said that day. Antoinette says "God gives us all a purpose in life."

If that's true, then she fulfilled her purpose that day.

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