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TALON asked Emery Hill


December 28, 2018

Emery Hill on What Does Being Aztec Strong Mean to You?.

By Jacque Ritchie, TALON

Hailed as a hero for his selfless acts of bravery during the December 7, 2017 shooting at AHS, Thomas Emery Hill is a soft-spoken modest fellow who does not much care for attention. A San Juan County Volunteer Fire fighter for 20 years, Hill had been working as a custodian at AHS for around four years at the time of the shooting. It was just after 8:00 a.m. as Hill was on his way to replace a fuse in the 900 building when he heard the unlikely sound of gunfire. According to reports (TALON December 2017 Jessica Selph) Hill immediately got on his radio calling out, "Shots fired! Shots fired!" prompting staff and administration to initiate "lock-down procedures." Hill then followed the gunman across the catwalk alerting police to the shooter's location. Hill's courage that day undoubtedly saved lives and secured his place as a genuine hero in Aztec history.

TALON caught up to Hill on a campus rooftop this week and asked him: What does being Aztec Strong mean to Emery Hill? "I try not to think about it much, but I'll get back to you," Hill said, safe in the knowledge that this reporter does not climb very well. Later in the week, TALON cornered Hill again, on the ground this time, where he added, "For me the thing was seeing how the community came together after the event and it wasn't just Aztec, it was Farmington, Bloomfield, Shiprock, Albuquerque everybody, it was really something." Hill found Aztec strength in the feeling of community, "Among other aspects, it was like whether you know each other or not we help each other out."

On occasion folks put themselves in a hypothetical situation, as in; what would I do if...and perhaps many folks wish that they possess the presence-of-mind and the courage to do something selfless, like Emery Hill did that day. Hill doesn't believe putting ones life on the line is the only kind of courage there is, "There's different versions of being strong and being courageous. One aspect just having a shoulder for somebody to cry on, that's being strong and brave right there...cause not everybody can do that. Being strong is different it's not all the same, at least that's the way I look at things."


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