Whatever a gunman planned to do when he entered a DeKalb County elementary school, it obviously wasn’t the best idea. The armed man slipped into an academy on afternoon, creating a nightmare for students and their parents.
The suspect, identified as Michael Brandon Hill, was quickly arrested by police at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, near Decatur.
The gunman who was equipped with an AK-47, barricaded himself inside the building and later opened fire at officers, who then returned fire, DeKalb County police Chief Cedric Alexander said Tuesday afternoon.
The school bookkeeper, Antoinette Tuff, met with the gunman face to face. The man ordered her to call one of the news stations. She called Channel 2 Action News.
Tuff later revealed to reporters: “I just started praying for him. I just started talking to him and allowing him to know some of my stories and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then let him know that he could just give himself up.”
The bookkeeper went on, recalling that she spent an hour with the crazy armed man throughout the ordeal and asked him to put the weapon down.
“He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry, too,” Tuff said. “But I told them, he was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms.”
The suspect has finally calmed down and put his weapon aside, surrending without further incident. But by then, multiple shots had been fired, according to police.
GBI Director Vernon Keenan echoed the thoughts of many, saying how relieved he was that no one had been injured.
“It takes a lot of resources to handle something like this,” Keenan said. “We were dern lucky we didn’t have anyone killed in the school.”
Jonessia White, the mother of one of the school students, told reporters that she talked to her son’s teacher soon after pupils and the stuff were evacuated. Teacher told her they were still inside the building shortly after 2 p.m.
“When I hear he’s safely out of the building, I’ll be OK,” White said, adding that she learned of the shooting when a friend called to say helicopters gathered over the school.
The mother also said the school’s doors are normally locked.
“I took (my son) to school this morning and had to be buzzed in,” she said. “So I’m wondering how the guy got in the door.” White went on, adding that before what happened Tuesday, she believed that the school was safe and was satisfied with its procedures.
Jackie Zamora, 61, said her 6-year-old grandson was inside the school when rumors of the gunman started circulationg across the town and she panicked for more than an hour as there were no reports regarding the injured.
“I don’t know how this could happen at this school,” Zamora said. “There’s so much security.”