Former Santa Barbara hostage negotiator calls novice a 'natural'

School Bookkeeper saves lives in Georgia

Tracy Lehr, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Reporter, tracy@keyt.com
POSTED: 12:54 AM PST Dec 24, 2013    UPDATED: 10:17 AM PDT Aug 22, 2013 
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

An elementary school bookkeeper in Georgia is being hailed a hero after talking a heavily armed gunman out of a killing spree.  

Former hostage negotiator and Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves has been playing close attention.

Aceves said Antoinette Tuff is a natural negotiator. Aceves said she exhibited every trait that a hostage negotiator would have. She was calm and understanding without being accusatory.

Tuff got personal with the 20-year-old identified as Michael Brandon Hill.

She even told him that her husband left her after 33 years.

Aceves said she showed him that they both had problems.

He said it diffused the situation and allowed him to take the time to change his mind.

No one was hurt.

Aceves said he would like to meet Tuff someday.

He also wants people to know it is safer to leave negotiating with armed suspects up to professionals.

Hill is now in custody.

Police said he had an AK-47 even though he had a history of mental illness and a prior record that included threats.