An assistant football coach and security guard “died a hero” using his own body to shield a student during Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida—one of 17 killed in the massacre.
Witnesses reported that Aaron Feis was fatally injured when he moved in front of a student to protect them from incoming bullets fired by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Although the football coach was taken to hospital with critical injuries, he succumbed to his wounds.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagles football team’s Twitter account confirmed the staff member’s death in a statement issued on Thursday.
“It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis,” the statement reads. “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.”
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— MS Douglas Football (@MSDEagles) February 15, 2018
Since news of his actions and hospitalization, there has been an outpouring of tributes on social media for the coach who has been described as “a friend to all students” who “gave his all.”
“He was a great guy,” football player Gage Gaynor told 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.”
Andrew Hofmann, who previously worked at the school, told the Miami Herald that Feis was “a quiet person” with a great sense of humor. He had worked at the school since graduating in 1999.
The gunman, an expelled former student of the school, was arrested and has been charged with 17 counts of murder.