Aug. 20, 2013 started as a normal morning for Antoinette Tuff who was a bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Atlanta. The day took a fearful turn when Tuff saw Michael Hill arrive at the school with an assault rifle prepared to conduct a mass shooting and commit a suicide attempt. Tuff, who ultimately convinced Hill to surrender to police that day, chronicles this event and others in her upcoming memoir, “Prepared For A Purpose: The Inspiring True Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Seige.”
Tuff says that she wrote her memoir to let people know that her story did not “start” on that fateful day. After her husband of 33 years left her for another woman, she says she contemplated ending her life, similar to Hill. “I knew the pain [Michael Hill] felt and I could show him compassion and love,” she said in an interview with Huffington Post Live.
Her compassion was heard during the 911 call that placed on that life-changing day. FBI operators applauded Tuff for her calm delivery and hailed her as a hero. Former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss told CNN that Tuff’s performance was “amazing” and that ”she didn’t do anything where she acted like a victim.” Kendra McCray, the 911 Operator who was on the phone with Tuff, calls her a hero. “I’ve never had a call where the caller was so calm; so confident,” she said on Anderson Cooper 360.
Despite her seemingly calm demeanor during the 911 call, Tuff admits she wasn’t sure that leveling with Hill about her personal pain had initially worked. “He was pacing up and down in the hallway,” she said. ”He was loading his gun with more ammunition…he did not communicate back to me.”
Tuff says that she was terrified and asked God to get her and the students out safely. “I thought I was screaming on the inside. He had already shot a bullet right in there in the room right where I was at to show me that he wasn’t playing. I knew that every word that preceded out my mouth could’ve been life or death.”