Teacher who stopped shooter, saved students speaks for first time about her experience

MATTOON – Math teacher Angela McQueen said she was focused on saving students’ lives when she subdued a student shooter inside the Mattoon High School cafeteria on Sept. 20. Today, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) member will be honored for her heroic efforts during an afternoon reception at the school.

In McQueen’s first interview since the incident, she said it was her strong faith in God and natural instincts that compelled her to take action when she saw a student raise a gun in the middle of a crowded cafeteria. Because of McQueen’s quick response to contain the shooter, only one student was injured. That student was initially hospitalized but has since been released and is now back at school. The student who fired the shots has been charged with one count of aggravated battery with a firearm.

“In that moment, you don’t really think. You just react. 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,’” McQueen said. “These are still my kids — even though I don’t know every single kid in there. You’re not going to do this to my kids. You’re not going to do this at my school.”

A portion of McQueen’s interview was released on the IEA Facebook page this morning. McQueen is an IEA member and a math and physical education teacher at Mattoon High School.

This afternoon she will be honored by the Illinois State Police, Illinois branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Society of Former Special Agents, City of Mattoon, Mattoon Police Department and the Mattoon School District.

“We are forever grateful to Angela for her courageous actions that saved the lives of our kids.  She was a ray of light in our darkest hour,” Superintendent Larry Lilly said.

Additional sound and video of McQueen can be found here. Please courtesy the Illinois Education Association.


The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.

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