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Decatur, Ga. School Hero Antoinette Tuff Gets Call from Obama

Now she’s officially a hero.

Antoinette Tuff, a bookkeeper at a Decatur, Ga. school, demonstrated tremendous charm and grace under fire as she stymied a mentally disturbed gunman who slipped into the building. Tuff’s charisma, which prevented the gunman from potentially taking many lives, did not go unnoticed by President Obama, who called to thank her.

Tuff talked to 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill for over an hour during the standoff on Tuesday. She empathized with his plight and even told him that she loved him, as he tried to figure out what to do.

According to the Washington Post, as soon as the man entered the school and fired a round into the floor, Tuff called 911. She remained calm while keeping a conversation going with the gunman and the 911 dispatcher. Hill had a fully loaded AK-47 with more than 500 rounds—that Tuff witnessed him loading into the rifle. Yet on the 911 call, she sounded as if she was talking to one of the little ones at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy where the encounter took place. By the time she was done, Hill had given her his weapon and laid down on the floor in front of her with his hands behind his back, waiting for the police to come in and arrest him.

Apparently the president called her just as she was about to go on CNN’sAnderson Cooper 360” yesterday evening.

“Awesome. Oh God it was awesome,” she said of hearing Obama’s voice on the other line.

“It was the best voice I could ever hear.”

Tuff said Obama called her a hero and told her that he hoped to meet her one day in person. He told her that his entire family was proud of her too.

The White House released a statement Thursday evening, saying, “This afternoon, the President called Antoinette Tuff to thank her for the courage she displayed while talking to a gunman who entered the school where she works earlier this week.”

During the 911 call, at one point Tuff  can be heard telling the gunman, “It’s gonna be all right, sweetie. I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing. You’ve just given up. Don’t worry about it.”

At the end of the call, Tuff told Kendra McCray, the 911 dispatcher who talked with her for close to a half an hour, “I’m going to tell you something, baby: I’ve never been so scared in all the days in my life.” McCray replied, “You did great.”

McCray also appeared on Cooper’s show, where she said, “I’ve never had a call where the caller was so calm and confident…you made my job a whole lot easier.”

Tuff even set up a fund yesterday to raise money for underprivileged children to travel and see the world. The effort, which can be found here at, had already raised over $67,400 as of early this afternoon, with 1,390 people giving money—including at least one donation of $1,000. When she set up the site, Tuff said her fundraising goal was $1,500.

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