School staff's response to gunman praised

School staff's response to gunman praised

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Harold Grant and Malcolm Quillens (right) are being praised for their response to a shooter at a DeKalb County school. Harold Grant and Malcolm Quillens (right) are being praised for their response to a shooter at a DeKalb County school.

Two staffers at McNair Discovery Learning Academy in DeKalb County talked to FOX 5 about Tuesday's tense situation involving a gunman on the school's campus.

Authorities say 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill walked into the main administrative office of the school armed with an AK-47 and almost 500 rounds of ammunition. He fired at the floor before being talked down by school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff.

The school's cafeteria manager, Malcolm Quillens, said he had no idea of the crisis Tuff was dealing with when he walked in on the two.  He said that he thought the gunman was a parent until Hill ordered him to leave and then opened fire.

"Just the mere fact that he shot the gun was threatening. He didn't seem mean but more agitated," Quillens said.

The cafeteria manager said he hesitated to leave Tuff alone in the room with the gunman, but he said the bookkeeper gave him a reassuring look. Quillens said he ran to alert other staff members.

"For her to make me aware calmly -- ‘Mr. Quillens, he is not kidding, this is not a joke, he's serious,'  -- she is phenomenal , just to hear what she was saying and how she was poised, and for me to leave and look at her and feel no panic in her eyes," Quillens said.

Media specialist Harold Grant thought the gunfire was part of a drill until he saw Quillens running.

"I was out locking the media center doors, and as I made it to the last door, that's when I encountered Mr. Quillens running out of the mail room and he was screaming, ‘A gunman,'" Grant said. "That is when I noticed the intruder come out of the office door and I noticed the gun beside him and that is when I ran back."

Grant sent text messages to colleagues warning them to lock their doors and hide their students.

"The staff, we're a family, knowing that we are all OK and just recognizing everyone as a whole, because everyone did their part to make this a happy ending," Grant said.

On Friday, the Obama administration congratulated the school's faculty, staff and students for how they responded to the terrifying situation. Via a video conference, U.S. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan addressed the school for about 30 minutes, honoring their collective bravery and celebrating there were no casualties.

Secretary Duncan expressed not only his thanks, but also that of President Obama.

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