Toni Braxton stars as Antoinette Tuff in Lifetime’s movie Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story. The film is informative but it can’t tell you everything. We share some more details about the courageous woman behind the incredible story.
Antoinette Tuff worked at the DeKalb county school system for eight years. She had been at her most recent position at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, GA, for 3 years prior to the fateful day that would change her life on August 21st 2013. She was the school bookkeeper.
That morning, Michael Brandon Hill, a 20 year old gunman and domestic terrorist, walked into the school with terrible intentions. In his possession, he had a rifle and over 500 rounds of ammunition.
While the situation was all too real, Antoinette Tuff was more than prepared, having been trained in hostile situations. The school actually regularly trained personnel to be prepared for worst case scenarios and the training would come in handy that day for Ms. Tuff, who later admitted that initially she thought the situation was a drill because the trainings in the past had been so intensive.
Antoinette actually was scheduled to be off that day. As fate would have it, it was a schedule change landed her in the building that morning.
Michael on the other hand, had a history of violence and admitted that he was not all mentally there, and that he had not taken his medication that day. He had previously been on probation for three years. He was arrested in July of 2013 as well for making terroristic threats against his brother.
Apparently he didn’t own the rifle he went into the school with. He took it from a friend’s house.
Michael burst into the school at shot at the floor and also shot at police when they arrived on the scene. Still, somehow Antoinette Tuff was able to calm him down and get him to talk to her. She would call the police and stay on the phone with 911 operator Kendra McKay for over 25 minutes.
Antoinette was able to calm Michael down as well as Kendra McKay, helping everyone through a very stressful morning. “It’s going to be all right, sweetie,” she told Michael and then admitted to him that she had contemplated suicide after her husband left year the year before.
Antoinette had been married for 26 years before her husband left her the year prior. The divorce was finalized just two months before that morning. The couple had one child together, Derrick, 26, who was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a rare hereditary disorder which affects the motor skills in the hands and feet. It cannot be cured, only treated.
After negotiating with the police Antoinette was able to get Michael to walk out the school and surrender. He walked right out, dropped his rifle and lay face down on the ground. Michael was arrested. Miraculously, the 800 students and additional faculty were all unharmed. In fact, not one person was injured that morning even though shots were exchanged.
Michael Brandon Hill pleaded guilty to multiple charges including aggravated assault, terroristic threats and firearms violations. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison the following year. By then he was 21 years old.
Antoinette Tuff would release her autobiography in 2014 titled Prepared for a Purpose: The Inspiring True Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Siege. The book inspired the film, Faith Under Fire.
After the whole ordeal Antoinette because a motivational speaker. She also launched Kids on the Move For Success, a nonprofit 501c3 organization. Kids on the Move for Success strives to provide underserved children the educational opportunities to see the world through a new set of eyes.
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