Antoinette Tuff
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We live in a world where there is so much instability, where everyone looks for the next person to let out his anger on, the very few who still manage to hold their end are hailed as heroes. They may not have done something very spectacular but when the action of one woman saved the lives of close to one thousand school children, it is nothing less than heroic. Antoinette Tuff is the name of that school worker whose faith and courage prevented tragedy in a school under siege.

In August 2013, where she was working as a bookkeeper, Tuff who was still coming to terms with the truth that her husband of 33 years left her, put her interest aside and her life at stake to talk to a would-be mass killer, thereby averting a would have been a tragedy.

Antoinette Tuff may not have dressed up in a spandex costume but proved in that situation that wonder women do not only exist on the screens but are real people too. Just simple sincere words from her, “I love you” to that potential shooter disarmed and put him down.

Here is all you need to know about this wonder woman and her heroism.

Antoinette Tuff Biography

Antoinette Tuff is an American woman who rose to the limelight by simply using love to convince a troubled soul that she cared for him. She was born in Washington D.C., though the details of her birth including the date are largely unknown.

She fell in love with Terry Tuff, the man who would become her husband, when they were both kids. It was a perfect relationship and they cared for and loved each other deeply. Into their adulthood, they got married and had two children, a daughter named LaVita and a son, Derrick. He was born with a neurological disorder that’s left him legally blind and unable to walk.

Thirty-three years into their relationship, the walls came crumbling down and all was ended in a fleeting second, in 2012. She was left devastated and in great despair. Tuff was the school bookkeeper at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, Atlanta. She was also working two other jobs to make ends meet but in the midst of all those activities, she was giving up on living and tried to commit suicide two days before she pulled off such courage in the face of impending evil. She persuaded an alleged armed gunman, Michael Brandon Hill to give himself up, in August 2013. Her heroic act not only made her famous but also gave her a new purpose to live.

Everything You Need To Know

Tuff used her experiences to successfully convince an armed gunman

Antoinette Tuff dressed up like every other day on August 20, 2013, and drove to Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, the elementary school where she works as the bookkeeper. However, she was severely depressed and never thought her story would be a turning point in another man’s life, not to talk of one on a killer mission.

That day, Tuff happened to be working at the front desk. While settling into her new position, the door swung open, and a young armed man walked in. Michael Brandon Hill, 20, held a long rifle, an AK-47, one hand on the barrel, the other on the trigger. He had more than 500 rounds of ammunition with him and sent the school into lockdown.

At that time, though her heart was thumping, a strange calm overwhelmed her. While one of the staff alerted the school of the intruder at his command, Antoinette Tuff took his other commands which included alerting the police of his presence and of his impending mission; to shoot and kill, and to call a news station. With the dispatcher on the line, she spoke with her captor.

Then, the police arrived and a shoot out ensued. Somehow, she was able to talk him into coming back into the office. Wounded on his shoulder, Hill came back in and by this time, has become mellow. At that point, Tuff took over the situation. She told him her story, her vulnerabilities – divorce, a suicide attempt and a disabled son, while he, in turn, opened up about his mental illness history; he has bipolar disease. “It’s going to be all right, sweetie,” Tuff said. “I just want you to know I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you.” Hill put down all his weapons and surrendered to police.

That day, Antoinette Tuff looked death in the eye and didn’t flinch. Her character forced a tragedy to end in peace, and no one was hurt. She never imagined that she would become a hero, saving over 800 lives, and with the most powerful weapons of all – love and compassion. Hill pleaded guilty to multiple charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

She Became an Instant Celebrity

Tuff’s life changed forever following the incident. Police officers came in to take her statement while news stations also interviewed her. The case, in turn, became the only school active shooter situation in the United States that ended without death or injury of anybody, including the shooter himself. Now, the world knows the bookkeeper.

Antoinette Tuff became the best-selling author of her memoir, Prepared for a Purpose in 2014, an inspirational speaker as well as launched mentoring programs in schools. She was also a  guest of the then FLOTUS, Michelle Obama at the State of the Union Address. Moreover, she inspiring people all over the world to push past their pain. President Barack Obama also called her directly to thank her for her heroism.

Her story was the subject of a movie

Antoinette Tuff
Tuff and the cast of Faith Under Fire: image source

The 2018 Lifetime movie, Faith Under Fire, a project of Bishop T.D. Jakes told the Antoinette Tuff story. The film starred Toni Braxton as Tuff and other actors including Yaya Dacosta and Malik Yoba. It was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

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