911 Tape Shows Just How Amazing Ga. School Clerk Was Under Pressure

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 22 2013 9:45 AM

911 Tape Shows Just How Amazing Ga. School Clerk Antoinette Tuff Was Under Pressure

Yesterday, the world met Antoinette Tuff, the amazingly level-headed school clerk who turned into a one-woman crisis management team when 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill showed up at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy dressed in black and armed with an AK-47 on Tuesday. Last night, we got an even better idea of just how compassionate and calm under fire Tuff was thanks to the full recording of the 911 call she made while the terrifying situation unfolded.

The tape, at more than 24 minutes, is long and full of stretches of silence—but it's incredible to listen to and worth the time. Early on, you hear Tuff consider making a run for it while Hill was outside shooting. "No, he's going to see me running, and he's coming back," Tuff tells the dispatcher in a moment that forces you to more fully consider, however briefly, the alternative scenarios that could have played out at the elementary school if she had fled.

In what may be the most incredible moment in a tape full of them—one that comes after Tuff has convinced Hill to surrender and shortly before the police come in—the school clerk tells Hill that she loves him. "It's gonna be all right, sweetie," she says. "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." It's only later, after police have Hill in custody, that we hear Tuff's voice waver. "Let me tell you something, baby," she tells the dispatcher. "I've never been so scared in all the days of my life."

Advertisement

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 8:07 AM The Dark Side of Techtopia
  Life
Quora
Oct. 2 2014 8:27 AM How Do Teachers Kill the Joy of Reading for Students?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 2 2014 9:08 AM Demons Are Real A horror movie goes behind the scenes on an Intervention-like reality show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 2 2014 7:30 AM What Put the Man in the Moon in the Moon?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?