Nineteen weeks into 2019, there had already been 15 school shootings in the US in which someone was hurt or killed.
America is a big outlier among developed countries when it comes to gun deaths — in large part because it has so many guns, making it easy to carry out an act of violence.
But when tragedy strikes, “situational heroes” can emerge unexpectedly from a crowd during moments of crisis.
One of these incredible heroes is Angela McQueen.
Just after 11:30 a.m. on September 20, 2017, the nightmare became reality at Mattoon High School in Illinois. An unnamed student allegedly opened fire in the school cafeteria.
But before tragedy could strike, a teacher did the unthinkable.
School shootings are devastating, and can end up hurting both adults and children alike.
When Angela McQueen saw a student raise a gun in the school’s crowded cafeteria, she said that one thought came to mind: “You’re not going to do this to my kids.”
Angela McQueen, a math and physical education teacher at the school for 17 years, rushed over and tackled the shooter while he fired at students eating their lunch.
The boy continued to fire shots as McQueen tried to disarm him, she said.
“I sprang into action because I looked over and I saw a student pull a gun out and he was aiming it at students to his right,” Angela said in a video released by the Illinois Education Association.
“I immediately lunged at the gun and I got the gun up in the air as quick as I could, as fast as I could because I didn’t want him to hit the students”.
Angela, who is described as a shy and quiet person, manage to held down the gunman.
His finger was still placed on the trigger as bullets flew up into the ceiling. A school resource officer in another part of the school heard the shots and ran to assist.
Soon, more than 100 police officers raced toward the chaos at Mattoon High School and took the alleged shooter into custody.
Unfortunately, a 16-year-old student was shot during the incident. He was later released from the hospital.
A second student was also struck by as many as two gunshots but survived, said Bridget Shanahan, spokeswoman for the Illinois Education Association.
The shooter, who the police said was a student, was charged with one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, according to reports.
He has not been identified because of his age.
Police say Angela McQueen’s quick response saved many lives.
“Had the teacher not responded as quickly as she had, I think the situation would have been a lot different,” Mattoon police Chief Jeff Branson said.
Angela was able to stop the dangerous situation before it escalated further, but her role as protector didn’t stop there.
Even after overwhelming the shooter, Angela McQueen continued checking on others.
“She was walking around and making sure everything was OK. And I went up and gave her a hug and thanked her because she could have — that could have been a lot worse and she made it to where it wasn’t,” student Anna Morton told CBS.
To the community, Angela’s actions were a stunning act of heroism in the usually quiet school of 1,000 students about 180 miles south of Chicago.
“We are forever grateful to Angela for her courageous actions that saved the lives of our kids. She was a ray of light in our darkest hour,” Superintendent Larry Lilly said in the release.
Innocent people are killed every year from school shootings, and they need to stop!
We cannot always rely on heroes like Angela being there when something terrible happens.
But with that said, Angela deserves all the tribute she can get. Some people don’t know how to react in a dire situation and they freeze.
It takes courage to step out of the norm, assess the situation, and react quickly. Very courageous. God Bless you Angela.
This incredible teacher deserves all the recognition in the world. Please SHARE her story with your friends on Facebook.