She Saved the Lives of 800 Children and a Gunman

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Bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff was unarmed when she prevented an elementary school mass shooting.

Jan 22, 2014 | 04:33 PM

Sometimes, you just have to turn a celebrity-sized spotlight on everyday people. The amazing story of Antoinette Tuff is one of those cases. 

On August 20, 2013, a man who had been recently arrested for alleged "terroristic threats and acts" entered the McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, carrying an AK-47 and several hundred rounds of ammunition.

"I saw a young man ready to kill anybody that he could," said Antoinette Tuff, the elementary school's bookkeeper who sat unarmed in the front office when the man—identified as 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill, from the Atlanta area—told her he had "nothing to live for" and started to load his gun.

"I just started praying for him. I just started talking to him and allowing him to know some of the stories and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then let him know that he could just give himself up," Tuff said.

Fortunately, the aproximately 870 pre-kindergarten to fifth-graders were safely evacuated from the school while Tuff continued to convince the gunman to surrender. "I told him to put [the guns] on the table, empty his pockets. He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry, too. But I told them, "He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms," added Tuff.

And now, Antoinette Tuff is sharing her horrific ordeal with the book "Prepared for a Purpose: The Inspiring Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Seige." "I know that the story needed to be told. I wanted people to get the foundation of what was actually going on," Tuff told "Good Morning America. 

"I was terrified on the inside," said Tuff who, to this day, refuses to be called a hero. "I give it all to God, I'm not the hero," she insisted. 

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