Superman, Clark Kent, has nothing on Super Human Antoinette Tuff.
It’s easy to have courage in the face of unimaginable danger when you have super human strength, speed and leaping abilities. It’s easy to put your life on the line for the good of humanity when your body is indestructible. It’s easy to be fearless and take action to change the course of human events when a happy ending is already guaranteed.
But when an armed gunman entered Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia on August 20, 2013 and maneuvered his way into school clerk Antoinette Tuff’s office space, she wasn’t participating in an overly dramatic comic book adventure nor even in one of the schools terrorism training exercises. The man, 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill, and his weapons were real and his warning shots into the floor and out the door at the police proved his AK-47 was loaded.
Antoinette had no easy button to push to escape her situation. She had no super human abilities to save her life and the lives of potentially everyone else including about 870 pre-kindergarten to fifth grade students at the school. There would be no rewrites or do overs if something went wrong.
“Let me tell you something, baby,” she later tells the dispatcher. “I’ve never been so scared in all the days of my life.”
But fear didn’t stop her. Using her all too human powers of compassion, her strength of will, her terrorism training, her poise, and in a calm voice she keeps talking to him, getting him to relate to her and see her as a person with problems too. She notified teachers to keep their kids in the classrooms. Finally with a 911 dispatcher on the other end of the phone, Antoinette, in the face of overwhelming danger and fear, convinces the gunman to put his weapon down and give himself up to the police.
“It’s gonna be all right, sweetie,” she says to Hill as they wait for the police to enter. “I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing – you just given up. Don’t worry about it.”
The label hero/heroine is given to every media or sports personality that comes along, but Antoinette Tuff is in a class apart and far above. Listen to her talking to the 911 emergency dispatcher on the audio recording and see if you don’t agree with me that Antoinette is better than a superhero, she’s a Tuff Super Human.
Youtube audio via Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Warning – there are long pauses in the recording)