'He died a hero': Assistant football coach among 17 dead in Florida school shooting

Thursday , February 15, 2018 - 6:01 AM

Matt Bonesteel and Cindy Boren

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was among the 17 people shot and killed by an expelled student who opened fire at the school Wednesday. The football team announced Feis’ death on Twitter early Thursday morning via its Twitter account.

“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,” the team’s Twitter post said.

Douglas football coach Willis May told the Orlando Sentinel that he had heard Feis had jumped between a female student and the shooter, pushing her through a door and out of danger. He also was a security guard at the school and was working in that capacity when the shooting began, as told by the Sentinel:

“Feis, in his capacity as a school security guard, responded to the original call on the school’s security radio walkie-talkies. Someone asked on the radio if the loud sounds heard were firecrackers, according to May, who also carries a radio.

“ ‘ I heard Aaron say, ‘No, that is not firecrackers.‘ That’s the last I heard of him,” May said. . . .

“ ‘ Big ol’ teddy bear,‘ May said of Feis. ‘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.‘ “

According to a short biography on the Douglas football team’s website, Feis graduated from the school in 1999 and was a center on the team. He returned to Douglas in 2002 and became head coach of the junior varsity team. After that, he coached the linemen for the JV and varsity teams and coordinates the players’ college recruitment. He had a wife and a daughter, according to the biography.

Douglas Athletic Director and wrestling coach Chris Hixon also was among the people shot, according to the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, which had no details about his condition as of Wednesday night. ESPN’s Mark Jones also reported that Douglas girls’ basketball player Maddy Wilford was undergoing surgery on Thursday morning after she was wounded in the attack.

The Eagles had been scheduled to play a girls’ basketball region quarterfinal on Thursday night, the Sun-Sentinel reported, but all athletic activities have been canceled in the wake of the shooting.

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