Aaron Feis sacrificed his life so that others could live.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football coach likely saved many lives Wednesday when he placed himself between the suspected gunman and students during the mass shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida. Feis was one of 17 people whose lives were taken Wednesday.
Stories of Feis’ good nature and kindness are coming in from around the country as told by his students, colleagues, friends, and family.
“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” school spokesperson Denise Lehtio told CNN. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
The school confirmed his passing early 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
— MS Douglas Football (@MSDEagles) February 15, 2018
Colton Haab, a player on the high school football team, told CNN that Feis shielded three of his female classmates from the suspected gunmen. “That’s coach Feis,” he added.
Head football coach Willis May told the Sun Sentinel that Feis immediately sprung into action upon hearing gunfire. “I heard Aaron say, ‘No, that is not firecrackers,'” May told the paper. “That’s the last I heard of him.”
Every one is talking about a disturbed kid or arguing about #GunControlNow. Lets talk about Aaron Feis. He was a football coach at the #floridaschoolshooting He stepped in front students sheilding them with his body. He was shot multiple times and died saving the kids he loved. pic.twitter.com/llc02CM6nQ
— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) February 15, 2018
“Big ol’ teddy bear … Hardcore — he coached hard. Real good line. He did a great job with the [offensive] line. He took pride with working with those guys. Loyalty — I trusted him. He had my back. He worked hard. Just a good man. Loved his family. Loved his brother. Just an excellent family man,” May added of coach Feis.
In a press conference Thursday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel described Feis as “one of the greatest people I knew” and “a phenomenal man.”
“I know Aaron personally,” Sheriff Israel said. “I coached with him. My two boys played for him. I don’t know when Aaron’s funeral is. I don’t know how many adults are going to go, but you’ll get 2,000 kids there.”
“The kids in this community loved him. They adored him. I don’t know the specifics yet, but I can tell you what—when Aaron Feis died, when he was killed tragically, inhumanely, he did it protecting others. You can guarantee that. ‘Cause that’s who Aaron Feis was,” Israel added.