Tragedies like the Parkland, Florida high school show the worst in humanity, but also demonstrate its best.
The first of the 17 slain victims of Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was Aaron Feis, the JV football coach and security guard who shielded students from the attacker with his own body.
Feis, 37, was survived by his wife and daughter, Fox News reported. His family was notified of his passing at midnight Wednesday.
The high school’s football team issued a statement about Feis’ death on Twitter Thursday.
It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis. He was our Assistant Football Coach and security guard. He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories pic.twitter.com/O181FvuHl3
— Stoneman Douglas Football (@MSDEagles) February 15, 2018
A person on the scene at the time of the shooting described the slain coach as jumping “in front of bullets to save some students’ lives.”
According to Fox News, Feis, who doubled as a security guard for the school, responded to a walkie-talkie call about loud pops in campus.
“I heard Aaron say, ‘No, that is not firecrackers.’ That’s the last I heard of him,” head football coach Willis May told the Sun Sentinel.
Students at the school spoke highly of Feis.
“He was a great guy,” sophomore Gage Gaynor said to the Sun Sentinel. “Everyone loved him. Shame he had to go like this. Always gave his all to making us better. Definitely learned a lot from him.”
Feis himself graduated from Stoneman Douglas High School in 1999. Shortly after, he was hired to do security for the school, and became the JV football coach in 2002.
Other victims of the shooting to be identified were 17-year-old student Jaime Guttenberg, geography teacher Scott Beigel, and athletics director Chris Hixon, Daily Mail reported.
Students relive horrifying moment former classmate opened fire in deadly attack, as we learn of the heroes who risked their lives to protect others pic.twitter.com/zDLSwvY27F
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) February 15, 2018
Guttenberg, Hixon, Beigel, and Feis were among 17 killed and 15 injured by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school who war armed with an AR-15-style rifle, a gas mask, and smoke bombs, WGNTV reported.
Feis was heralded as a hero around the country.
This is Aaron Feis.
He was a football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, who used his body to shield students from bullets.
Aaron Feis is a hero & I hope he is forever remembered for his selfless bravery. pic.twitter.com/gP47NI9p5i
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) February 15, 2018
So sorry to hear he didn’t make it.
There’s a special place in Heaven for Hero’s like this.
Prayers for his family, friends and loved ones..
— Lorenzo Covfefe ??? (@Lorenzo_Duartes) February 15, 2018
His legacy of love and devotion will forever be alive in the hearts of the students and the school! ???? pic.twitter.com/xFbFzLqyFq
— BenSr (@bensr_1) February 15, 2018
This man is a hero.
— Not PC (@ksbyron) February 15, 2018
Thank you Coach Aaron Feis for your bravery and selflessly sacrificing your own life to protect your students. You are a true American hero. You will be missed but not forgotten.
— sschallert (@sschallert) February 15, 2018
Some don’t run away from the sounds of guns, they run towards them to render help. They aren’t crazy, they are heroes. God bless Coach Feis and comfort his family. Courage is a lasting legacy.
— Stephen Kirtland (@stevediogenes) February 15, 2018
Salute! He should be formally recognized for his actions. Brother to brother, yours in life and death.
— ?????????? (@viradio) February 15, 2018
— DUCK????❤? (@dgreenbaum2010) February 15, 2018