Aaron Feis, a football coach who shielded students from a rain of bullets, was the first of 17 fatalities to be identified after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Fox News reported his death was confirmed by the school via a heartfelt message to its football team’s Twitter account.
“He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot,” the post read, referring to Feis as an assistant football coach and security guard. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”
Feis was alerted to the shooting through the school’s security radio walkie-talkie system when someone asked whether the loud bangs being heard were firecrackers, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Douglas football coach Willis May, who also carries a walkie-talkie, said Feis rushed to respond.
“I heard Aaron say, ‘No, that is not firecrackers.’ That’s the last I heard of him,” May said per the Sun-Sentinel.
May said, according to witness reports, Feis at one point jumped between a student and the shooter, pushing her out of the line of fire.
Since Wednesday’s shooting, tributes honoring Feis have flooded social media.
Former student Angelica Losada recalled how Feis was always kind to her during her time at the school, per Business Insider.
Sophomore lineman Gage Gaynor told the Sun-Sentinel that Feis was a “great guy” that everybody loved.
“Shame he had to go like this,” he said. “Always gave his all to making us better. Definitely learned a lot from him.”
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