National Edition

How faith stopped a school shooting

Published: Monday, Feb. 3 2014 4:15 p.m. MST

Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy teacher Brandon Graham, left, waits with a student to be picked up by a loved one at the end of their first day of classes at McNair High School Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 after a man with an assault rifle and other weapons entered the academy Tuesday and shot at police from inside, in Decatur, Ga. Antoinette Tuff, who stopped a school shooting at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Center Academy by talking down a gunman in 2013, said her faith helped her stop the shooter.

David Goldman, AP

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Antoinette Tuff calmed a man holding an AK-47 assault rifle when he invaded Tuff’s school, the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, Aug. 20, 2013.

And it was her faith, she said to NPR, that helped her do so.

Tuff recently released her new book, “Prepared for a Purpose: The Inspiring True Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Siege,” in which “she shares what was actually going on in her mind on that day and what led up to it,” NPR reported. In an interview with NPR, she said she never questioned her faith and kept asking God for help.

“I needed him to talk every minute he was there,” Tuff said, according to NPR. “I was calling on him more than I'm calling on him any day. I was like, 'God, what we going to do now (sic), what we going to do next, what do I say, how do I say it?' 'Cause, remember now, he had already shot a bullet right there in front of my face, in the office, and it ricocheted. I'm sitting there literally watch (sic) him unfold mentally. You know, spraying bullets everywhere, loading up the magazines, you know loading bullets in his pockets everywhere. I'm actually seeing him self-destruct right there. So I knew that the power of my words had to be powerful.”

Tuff’s heroics earned her a spot at the State of the Union, according to MSNBC.

And Tuff wrote in an article for The Huffington Post that her actions that day during the shooting were for a purpose, and she doesn’t consider herself a hero.

“But I do think of myself as God's servant, and I was able to do what I did on Aug. 20 because God prepared me for my purpose,” she wrote.

Tuff also said that as bad or a negative as things get, there’s always a reason for people to keep fighting and see a brighter side.

“The message I hope to convey is that we are all special. We are all God's soldiers, waiting for our next assignment. And the beauty of God's hand at work is that he will take the worst things in our lives — the hardest times, the deepest falls, the moments when we feel most alone — and turn them into strength and faith and love, so that we may serve him better. God prepares us for our purpose.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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