On Tuesday, a heavily armed gunman entered an Atlanta-area elementary school, but miraculously no one was hurt. We have Antoinette Tuff to thank for that. A clerk at the school, she spent an hour talking to the young man, who eventually put down his guns and surrendered:
“I just started praying for him,” Antoinette Tuff . “I just started talking to him … and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then [I] let him know that he could just give himself up. … I told him to put [the guns] on the table, empty his pockets. He had me actually get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry, too. But I told them, ‘He was sorry, but do not come out of their rooms.’ … I give it all to God, I’m not the hero. I was terrified.”
The fact that Tuff was able to talk and listen the way she did through her terror and show that young man that she saw his pain is nothing short of incredible. I’m also sitting with the fact that the would-be mass shooter is, as per usual, a young white man in a world that presumes people who look like him innocent, while people of color are presumed suspect.
Thank you, Antoinette Tuff, and to those who heal pain and who listen. There aren’t enough of you out there.