Author, Prepared for a Purpose, (2014)
Former bookkeeper at McNair Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia
Two adult children
Prepared for a Purpose
A PURPOSE FULFILLED
On Tuesday, August 20, 2013, Antoinette started her day like every other day. She woke up at 5:00 a.m. and read her Bible. Then she prepared breakfast for her son Derrick who has multiple disabilities and then rushed off to work at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Georgia.
Antoinette was the school bookkeeper who answered phones that morning while the receptionist went to lunch. Then around 12:45 the main door to the front office swung open. Antoinette looked up and saw a man dressed in black holding a fully-loaded AK-47 assault rifle. He yelled, “This is not a joke. We’re all going to die today.”
Instantly, Antoinette was gripped by terror unlike anything she has ever known. Her hands trembled and her heart raced. She began to talk to God asking him one simple question” “God, what are we going to do now?” The young, mentally unstable man in front of her ordered the other lady in the office to go tell everyone in the building he was there.
Antoinette was left alone with the gunman. As he paced back and forth in the room he grew more and more agitated. Antoinette began to calmly talk to the man like any other student. He told her to call 9-1-1 and a local television station. “Tell them I’m going to start shooting,” said the gunman.
The gunman began shooting out the front door at the police. Although he did not injure or kill anyone, the bullets he shot were real. He was losing control. Antoinette was fearful for the children so she followed the gunman’s orders. “I shouldn’t have done this. I’m sorry I did this. I know I’m going to die today,” said the gunman.
Antoinette spoke to him calmly and did her best to convince him otherwise, “You’re going to be alright. God loves you and so do I.” Through further negotiation with the shooter, Antoinette was able to convince the gunman to surrender.
“I did not see myself as the gunman’s enemy. He was already a person to me. He was one of God’s children…broken and battered, but still one of God’s children,” shares Antoinette. After almost an hour with the gunman, he agreed to surrender to police.
Antoinette stayed in the chair behind the front desk and tried not to move a muscle as ten armed officers entered the room. Once the gunman was hustled out of the building, an officer asked if Antoinette was okay because she was shaking uncontrollably. Her reply, “I have to go to the bathroom.” When she finally had the opportunity to go the restroom, Antoinette thanked God for sparing her life and helping her through the ordeal. She says what happened in that front office was not about her or even the shooter. “It’s about how God guides us all on our journeys and prepares us for a purpose that is not always ours to know.”
Antoinette had trouble sleeping after the events of McNair Academy. She says over time the nightmares have lessened and the terror subsided. She has received hundreds of notes, letters and presents from people all over the world thanking her for what she had done. She even got to meet the President. Although she still has a lot of the same problems and challenges in her life prior to the McNair Academy incident she feels very blessed. She has her kids, her quiet time and God.
Antoinette was born into the Baptist faith. She spent a lot of time in church growing up. It was like a home away from home. “As an adult, God has been my constant companion with me every step of the way, even when I couldn’t feel Him, most closely at those times,” shares Antoinette.
Before she made headlines, Antoinette was a woman who faced and overcame her own hurt and pain. She was abandoned by her father, became pregnant at twenty, had a son with multiple disabilities and a marriage that ended when she discovered her husband was having an affair. At times she wanted to give up, once she became so desperate she almost ended her life by walking into oncoming traffic. Antoinette felt she had no life without her husband. “God walked me back from the side of the road, one slow step at a time because He had some other purpose for me,” shares Antoinette.
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