PARKLAND, Fla. -- Football coach Aaron Feis threw himself in front of students as bullets hailed down Wednesday at his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
It would become perhaps the final act undertaken by the assistant coach and security guard, who suffered a gunshot wound and later died after he was taken into surgery, according to the school's football program and its spokeswoman, Denise Lehtio.
"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."
Feis was among 17 people killed when a former student armed with a rifle opened fired on campus, unleashing a massacre that stands among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.
Feis, who spent his whole career at the school after graduating from Stoneman Douglas, was among countless heroes whose stories began emerging after Wednesday's horror
Teacher Melissa Falkowski hid 19 students in a closet as the shooting erupted. Most students communicated silently on their phones, she said. Others burst into tears.
"This is the worst nightmare that could ever happen to you," she said.
Meantime, as a fire alarm blared, a janitor diverted senior David Hogg and other students away from the direction of the shooting, Hogg told KTRK. A teacher then opened a classroom door so they could hide.
"Without her, who knows how many of us would have died, 'cause we were easily 100 feet away from the freshman building, and again, we thought this was a drill," Hogg said.