The Mama-bear In­stinct

Reader's Digest - - Contents - ANDY SIM­MONS

AN­GELA MCQUEEN has a rou­tine when she’s on lunch-mon­i­tor­ing duty. The long­time math and phys ed teacher at Mat­toon High School in Mat­toon, Illi­nois, keeps an eye on the hun­dreds of stu­dents in her charge by walk­ing laps around the school cafe­te­ria. In Septem­ber 2017, Mcqueen, then 40, had fin­ished only one lap when a 14-year-old fresh­man stand­ing not far from her pulled out a gun.

Oh, crap! she said to her­self. He’s go­ing to start shoot­ing.

School em­ploy­ees had been trained on how to han­dle ac­tive shoot­ers: At­tack their abil­ity to aim. So with the shooter’s fin­ger on the trig­ger, Mcqueen lunged at him. Grab­bing at his arm, she forced the gun bar­rel into the air, but not be­fore he got off a cou­ple of rounds, strik­ing one stu­dent in the hand and ch­est and graz­ing an­other. As stu­dents ran for the ex­its, Mcqueen sub­dued the shooter with help from the school re­source of­fi­cer, who dis­armed the stu­dent and took him into cus­tody un­til po­lice ar­rived min­utes later. Af­ter­ward, Mcqueen went out­side to dole out hugs and sup­port to her shaken stu­dents.

“It’s the mama-bear in­stinct,” she told the lo­cal pa­per, the Pan­ta­graph. “I don’t have kids of my own, but these are still ‘my’ kids. You’re not go­ing to do this to my kids.”

And so, thanks to Mcqueen, a story that has played out trag­i­cally at far too many schools across the coun­try had a rel­a­tively happy end­ing. “If it hadn’t been for her, the sit­u­a­tion would have been a lot dif­fer­ent,” Po­lice Chief Jeff Bran­son said at a news con­fer­ence. (The one se­ri­ously wounded boy was re­leased from the hos­pi­tal soon af­ter the in­ci­dent.)

As one im­pressed stu­dent told

CBS News, “Ms. Mcqueen is Chuck Nor­ris, ba­si­cally.”

Teacher An­gela Mcqueen chats with some of “her” kids in the lunch­room where the shoot­ing took place.

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