Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LISTEN: Antoinette Tuff’s Amazing Call to 911 During Georgia School Shooting

Police handout of Michael Hill posing with the machine gun.

Police handout of Michael Hill posing with the machine gun.

Most 911 calls are frantic with dispatchers barely able to understand the nearly hysterical callers, who must repeat the same information over and over while waiting for police. This was not the case with Antoinette Tuff, who was being held at gunpoint by a school shooter. Her calm and empathy that day probably saved lives.

Antoinette was calm and courteous during her stressful encounter with Georgia school shooter Michael Brandon Hill. Hill showed up on August 20, 2013, at the McNair Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, with an AK-47 and 500 rounds of ammunition. Hill apparently entered the school and held two school employees hostage in the front office shooting at police when they arrived. One of those hostages was Antoinette Tuff, who he told to call 911.

Tuff relayed Hill’s statements that he didn’t want the children, he was there for the police officers, calmly to the 911 operator. he also said that he was mentally ill and off his meds. During the call Tuff interacted with Hill courteously, offering to help him, even trying to comfort him. She even shared her own personal tragedies and sorrows. By the end Hill said he was sorry, that he wanted to go to the hospital. He even gave her his name and his weapon.

Hill gave himself up to police with Tuff’s help. At the end of the call she told him “I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing that you just given up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”

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