Football Coach Who Died Shielding Parkland Students Hailed As Hero

The security guard and coach was loved by all kids in the community. So it wasn't surprising to learn that he did all he could to shield them from the murderer.

On paper, Aaron Feis was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s football coach and security guard. But to both staff and students at the Florida high school, he was much more than that.

A proud alumnus himself, Feis unfortunately made the news for the most tragic of reasons: He was one of the 17 people shot to death by Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday. Yet despite being a victim, Feis did not go down without fighting to protect those he loved the most.

According to witnesses, NBC reports, as soon as the first gunshots were heard, Feis draped himself over students, and because of that, student Julien Decoste said, “[h]e took the bullets himself.”

Decoste survived by hiding in a closet along with other students. But watching Feis do what he did to save as many lives as possible is an image the student said he will never forget.

“As I was being escorted out of the building, I had to step over him," he said. "Right then and there ... I knew: He had to have been dead or injured."

While he confirmed that Feis was one of the victims, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel could not comment on Decoste’s statement. However, he added that he knew Feis personally and that the entire community will feel this loss.

“I know Aaron personally," Israel said in a press conference Thursday. "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 will go, but you'll get 2,000 kids there. The kids in this community loved him. They adored him. He was one of the greatest people I knew. He was a phenomenal man."

On Twitter, many users who knew the heroic coach shared their stories.

Others urged news outlets to celebrate and elevate people like Feis, not the killer.

According to Johanna Mahaffey, Feis’ sister, her brother was a pillar of the community who would do anything to protect the kids. The fact he jumped between the bullets and the kids was just who he was, she added.

“He is a protector, a coach, and an educator," she told NBC.

As the news regarding the former student behind this massacre pours in, let us remember that for every act of cruelty and cowardice, a hero like Feis steps up and does the unthinkable to save lives.

These are the individuals we are celebrating today and will strive to be like tomorrow, if we’re ever put in similar situations.


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