When a student took out a gun on September 20 in the cafeteria at Mattoon High School in Central Illinois, math and PE teacher Angela McQueen acted quickly and disarmed him, averting a tragedy that could have been much worse, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“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,” she says in a video released Thursday 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.”
As she disarmed the student, he fired a few shots, one of which injured a nearby student; another student was injured while leaving the building, the Tribune reported. Both injured students have since returned to school, and the suspect remains detained, charged with one count of aggravated battery with a firearm.
School and law enforcement officials honored her in a reception at the school Thursday. “In that moment, you don’t really think; you just react,” she said:
To me, it’s almost like the mama bear instinct. I don’t have kids of my own right now, but it’s the instinct of, “You’re not going to do this to my kids.” These are still my kids—even though I don’t know every single kid in there.