It is quite normal for high school teacher Angela McQueen to walk a few laps around the school cafeteria while she performs her lunch-monitoring duties. However, one afternoon she spent watching her students as they ate lunch at Mattoon High School in Illinois turned out to be anything but typical.
A Routine Beginning
Angela McQueen was a 40-year-old math and physical education teacher when an otherwise typical day in September of 2017 quickly took a drastic turn for the worst. She had barely finished her first lap around the cafeteria when she saw a student with a gun in his hand. McQueen recognized the 14-year-old student and fully expected him to start shooting at any moment.
Training Comes in Handy
Angela McQueen and the other teachers working at Matton High School received training on how to handle an active shooter situation. The lessons were something McQueen and her co-workers hoped they would never need but it was nice to know the training was offered to them.
McQueen remembered a lesson from one of her training. She learned a self-defense move to attack the arm of an active shooter. With this technique, you’re able to disrupt the shooter’s ability to aim the weapon at his or her intended victims.
McQueen lunged at the freshman holding the gun and was able to grab his arm. She forced his hand into the air. Unfortunately, his finger was already on the trigger. The gun-wielding shooter was able to fire a couple of shots despite the heroic efforts of McQueen. One of the students McQueen was protecting was shot in the chest and hand. A bullet from the shooter’s gun grazed a second student.
A resource officer present in the cafeteria assisted McQueen and the two of them were able to subdue the shooter as students ran for every exit they could find. Police were on the scene in a matter of minutes and all was safe within the school once more.
McQueen’s next order of business was to go outside with her students and give a hug to those who needed it.
Following Her Instincts
Angela McQueen explained her experiences to a local newspaper shortly after she helped minimize the casualties from the disastrous event. She says that many thoughts ran through her mind at once when she saw the young man with the gun in his hand.
McQueen credited her “mama-bear” instincts for her quick action. She told the newspaper she does not have children of her own but stated that all the children of Mattoon High School were her children. “You will not do this to my kids,” is the thought McQueen says motivated her to spring into action.
A Well-Appreciated Teacher
Angela McQueen’s quick thinking greatly impacted a situation that had played out tragically at so many other schools in the past. Police Chief Jeff Branson applauded McQueen for her bravery and said the situation would have been much worse without her quick thinking. Chief Branson also reported that the student who received severe gunshot wounds had been released from the hospital and continued his recovery at home.
One student who witnessed both the tragic actions of the shooter and the heroic deeds of Angela McQueen likened her P.E. instructor to Chuck Norris.
The Bottom Line
Although school shooters all seem to share a few common traits, there’s still no definite explanation why these shooters are willing to open fire on their classmates. But what is more readily understood by all is that individuals like Angela McQueen possess an abundance of hope and resilience that will not be deterred in the face of these monstrous actions.