Aaron Feis, a reportedly beloved assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was among the 17 people killed Wednesday at the Parkland high school by 17-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz.
According to reports, Feis threw himself in front of students as Cruz shot up the school on Wednesday. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was Feis’ alma mater.
Feis reportedly responded to the original call on the school’s security radio walkie-talkies when a staff member asked if the loud sounds heard were “firecrackers.” Feis then responded, “No, that is not firecrackers.”
Spokeswoman Denise Lehtio said of Feis: “He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” Lehtio said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
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
According to Douglas football coach Willis May, Feis’ family was notified around midnight Wednesday or very early Thursday morning. In a news conference late Wednesday night, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel referenced a football coach dying, but did not give a name.
Social media accounts throughout the day called Feis a hero, saying he was shot while helping a student. May said he heard directly from a student that Feis jumped between her and the shooter, to push her out through a door and out of the line of fire.
May was in his football office at the time of the shooting and went into a lockdown mode with four football players and two coaches from Nichols College, who were recruiting at the school when Mays heard “Code Red” over the intercom. He added they later saw the shooter outside the office window, trying to blend in with students evacuating.
Cruz, described as a “troubled teen” (who was still able to legally purchase a gun), reportedly threatened and harassed peers, talked about killing animals, posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media, and bragged about target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.
Marjory Stoneman football coach Willis May said Feis was a “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,” Mays said.
May Coach Aaron Feis rest in peace.