Women who calmed DeKalb school gunman on CNN

Anderson Cooper with Antoinette Tuff (center) and Kendra McCray. (Image from CNN)

Anderson Cooper with Antoinette Tuff (center) and Kendra McCray. (Image from CNN)

Two days after two women worked together to get an armed gunman at a DeKalb County elementary school to surrender peacefully to police, they met and hugged on national TV.

Thursday evening, CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed Antoinette Tuff, a bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, and 911 operator Kendra McCray about the role they played in disarming 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill.

Hill, who, according to family members receives medical care for a mental condition, entered the school at about 1 p.m. Tuesday and fired multiple shots from an AK-47. He was in possession of almost 500 rounds of ammo.

No one was hurt, largely because of the calming and calm reaction of Tuff, who managed to talk Hill into laying down and letting police take him into custody.

Thursday was a big day for Tuff, who also received a phone call from President Barack Obama just before the show, said Cooper. AJC colleague Jim Galloway reports Obama may invite Tuff to the White House.

When Hill entered the school’s offices, he fired one round and Tuff called 911. McCray answered, and together the women relayed information from Hill to police. On 911 audio tapes, the women’s voices remained calm even while Hill fired rounds from the high-powered rifle.

“Let me tell you something, baby, I ain’t never been so scared in all the days of my life,” Tuff told Cooper. “I was actually praying on the inside. I was terrified, but I just started praying.”

McCray said she’d never “had a call where the caller was so calm, and so confident in what you were saying, and so personable. … [I] was terrified, coming on that line and hearing those gun shots… my hands were shaking so bad.”

Tuff said the “scariest moment” came after police fired back at the school and Hill became agitated. Then he started reloading his weapon and stuffing more ammo in his pockets.

After Hill told her he was off his medication and considering suicide, she said she “began to feel sorry for him.”

“So I knew that I wasn’t actually speaking to someone that was in their right state of mind,” she said.

After Tuff had gotten Hill to agree to surrender, the women said he became “agitated” and thought the situation would become violent. But Tuff told McCray to get the police into the office quickly and the Hill was taken into custody without more gunfire.

“[During the incident] I knew that I could help somebody. Somebody — God sent people, my pastor and people and friends and family in my path to help me through. And I knew at that point in time, that [Hill] needed me. And I was the only person there,” said Tuff.

Tuff said she wants to meet with Hill again and would like to help him.

“He’s a hurting — he’s a hurting soul. And so if there’s any kind of way that I can help him and allow him to get on the right path, we all go through something. And I believe that God gives us all a purpose in life. And I believe he has a purpose and destiny for that young man, also,” said Tuff.

13 comments Add your comment


August 23rd, 2013
8:13 am


Fay Woo

August 23rd, 2013
8:26 am



August 23rd, 2013
8:32 am

Job Well Done…

Lane Bryant

August 23rd, 2013
8:43 am

While well-deserved for her literal courage under fire, would Antoinette Tuff STILL have gotten that call from the President if her demographic profile and skin tone were the same as that of George Zimmerman?



August 23rd, 2013
9:20 am

Lane Bryant, perhaps your meds would be more affordable if you checked Walmart.

George Mathis

August 23rd, 2013
9:32 am

This has nothing to do with race. Applaud the results or otherwise make meaningful contributions.

Wes H

August 23rd, 2013
10:34 am

This woman deserves whatever the highest medal we give. Had she just ran or given up, this man might have tried to fight more with police, or even try and get to the kids.


August 23rd, 2013
10:37 am

Thank you George for this article. It is a blessing that no one was hurt. I can’t imagine what Antionette or Kendra were going through I am just glad that the young man surrendered. Race plays no part in this….courage has no race or ethnicity.


August 23rd, 2013
10:57 am

Lane Bryant, you have issues. You don’t think the President focused on taking with Sandy Hook people…what race were many of those involved. Remember when Kanye West said “George Bush hate Black people”…well you sound just as stupid.


August 23rd, 2013
10:59 am

Antoinette Tuff was truly inspiring.She saved so many lives…including that of the perp.


August 23rd, 2013
11:15 am

I am a former dispatcher and I applaud both Kendra and Antoinette. BOTH ladies deserve to be honored for their heroism. Noone can really know what it’s like to sit behind that desk and pick up that “one” phone call and hear what Kendra heard and to be in the office with a “ARMED GUNMAN” like Antoinette was– only God kept that situation from going in a total different direction. To God Be the Glory…thank you Antoinette and Kendra for ALL that you do EVERYDAY!!


August 23rd, 2013
2:00 pm

Absolutely amazing…..


August 23rd, 2013
3:03 pm

Thank you Jesus, to God be the glory!!! Please pray for prayer (NOT a moment of silence) in the schools; Ms. Tuff is a praying woman and God answers prayers!!!