CNN’s Chris Cuomo and President Barack Obama
by Dan Merica
(CNN) — President Barack Obama said he plans to invite Antoinette Tuff to visit the White House.
Tuff is the hero bookkeeper who talked a suspect into surrendering during a Georgia school shooting Tuesday.
During an exclusive interview with CNN “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo that airs Friday, Obama said what Tuff did was “remarkable” and something that “probably saved a lot of lives, including the life of the potential perpetrator.”
“Here is somebody who is not just courage, not just cool under pressure, but also had enough heart that somehow she could convince somebody that was really troubled that she cared about him,” Obama said.
The president continued: “I think we might have to have her maybe make a visit to the White House.”
Tuff convinced suspect Michael Brandon Hill to surrender to police after he entered the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy and fired a shot from an AK-47 at the ground. The academy is located outside of Atlanta.
Tuff approached Hill and began to try and talk him into surrendering. She divulged her personal struggles to the gunman, spoke to him about love, and even offered to walk outside with him to surrender so police wouldn’t shoot.
Much of her exchange with the gunman was overheard in her call to 911.
“He doesn’t want the kids, he wants the police, so back off,” she said in the call. “What else, sir? He said he don’t care if he die, he don’t have nothing to live for, and he said he’s not mentally stable.”
Eventually, Tuff convinced Hill to put down his weapon, empty his pockets and lie down so that authorities could come get him.
“It’s going to be all right, sweetie,” she tells Hill at one point. “I just want you to know I love you, though, OK? And I’m proud of you. That’s a good thing that you’re just giving up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”
Despite some gunfire, no one inside or outside the school was hurt, and Tuff is being heralded for her ability to connect with the suspect.
On Thursday, Obama called Tuff to tell her that her actions made him and first lady Michelle Obama proud. The president said he learned about her heroic actions by listening to her 911 call and reading the sequence of events.
“She was pretty cool, too,” Obama said about her telephone exchange with Tuff. “She was happy about it.”