Hero Teacher’s Quick Thinking Saves Lives In Mattoon High School Shooting

Wednesday’s shooting at Mattoon High School in Central Illinois could have ended in tragedy. The fact that it didn’t was thanks to Angela McQueen, an alert and courageous teacher on the scene.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the shooting took place in the cafeteria and the shooter was a male student. The teacher tackled him after he’d fired several rounds and injured two students. Mattoon Police Chief Jeff Branson joined school officials and parents in praising Angela McQueen for her clear head and quick reflexes.

“She’s been trained obviously, but in these scenarios, you just don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens,” he stated in his presser on the Mattoon High School shooting that evening. “Had the teacher not responded as quickly as she had I think the situation would have been a lot different.”

Just two Mattoon High School students were injured. One’s knuckles were grazed by a bullet, while the other sustained at least one gunshot wound and had to be taken to the hospital.

To everyone’s relief, Mattoon Schools Superintendent Larry Lilly told reporters he’d just visited the student at the hospital and said he was doing well. “With permission from his father, I can share his son is smiling, in stable condition, in good spirits and joked about catching some slack on his grades,” he wryly stated.

Although police were confident there was only the one shooter, they evacuated Mattoon High School students to an elementary school nearby and put the buildings on a “soft lockdown.”

The next morning, CBS News reported over 100 police officers had rushed to the scene and cleared everyone out so fast that returning students would “find their classrooms and belongings almost exactly as they left them.” Police have not named the shooter because he is a minor.

“It was one of the scariest things that could happen,” Braeton Davis, the 16-year-old junior at Mattoon High School who’d had his knuckles grazed, told CBS News. “That’s when I looked left and I saw the person holding the gun and then they fired three-to-five more shots.”

Anna Morton, another Mattoon High School student, added that after the shooting, Angela McQueen checked on other students. “She was walking around making sure everything was okay,” she said. “And I went up and gave her a hug and thanked her because that could have been a lot worse and she made it to where it wasn’t.”

Mattoon High School marks the 241st school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013.

But CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil ended his report with a chilling statistic.

“There is a scary undercurrent that we should add here, and that is that this is reportedly the fifth shooting at a Central Illinois High School in just the past four weeks.”

Another striking fact buried in this story is that Mattoon’s police chief said Angela McQueen had been “trained.” He doesn’t mention what kind of training she received. But CBS reported over 1,000 educators from 12 states have taken a three-day firearms course in Ohio with a program called FASTER Saves Lies. Participants also learn skills like how to take down a gunman and treat gun wounds.

After last week’s shooting at a Freeman High School in Spokane, Washington, CBS News reported that there have been 240 school shootings since the one in Newtown, Conn. back in 2013. That’s a terrifying average of one a week, and the Mattoon High School shooting makes 241, as confirmed by EveryTown USA, a non-profit that seeks to reduce gun violence. CBS News added,

“Funded by a pro-gun group and donations, the training is free. It began after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.”

One elementary school principal insists this will help him better prepare for protecting his students. He adds, “When I walk down the halls I actually think about where I would go, how would I react.” A middle school teacher with a concealed carry license takes her 9-mm pistol with her to class. Needless to say, nearly everyone the CBS News crew talked to asked them not to reveal their names.

But many teachers and parents don’t want guns in the classroom. Abbey Clements, one of 23 Newtown teachers whose 19 students lived that day, declared,

“Never in a million years would I have guessed that one response to what happened in our town would be to arm teachers. It’s absurd… God, can you imagine if children were hurt by you in that situation? How would you live with yourself?”

CBS News noted that during their time in Ohio, they actually saw a teacher accidentally “shoot” a student during a simulated armed shooter situation. But the principal still defends bringing his gun to school. “It’s an accident, we might take one, but we might have saved 30, 40 other kids,” he declared. But if that tragedy was real, would he be able to face that one child’s parents?

Watch: CBS reports on Angela McQueen and the Mattoon High School shooting.

[Featured Image by WAND TV/AP Images]