PARKLAND, Fla. (FOX 13) - A beloved football coach, who witnesses say, shielded students as a gunman opened fire inside a South Florida high school Wednesday, is the first of 17 fatalities to be identified.
According to a tweet by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas football team, assistant football coach Aaron Feis, who also served as a security guard, passed away.
Part of the tweet reads:
"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."
Feis responded to the initial call, reports the Sun Sentinel. When he was asked if the loud noise was firecrackers, he said no, according to Willis May, the high school's head football coach.
"I heard Aaron say, 'No, that is not firecrackers.' That's the last I heard of him," May told the Sun Sentinel.
May told the newspaper that Feis' family was notified of his passing around midnight.
Colton Haab, a student at the high school, said he used to just sit with Feis in his office and talk about life.
"We would just sit there and talk - just be friends," he told FOX 13. "He was very selfless. I saw him running toward the gunshots."
Colton said he used his body to try to shield three girls.
Feis graduated from the high school in 1999, and in 2002 joined the junior varsity football team as head coach and is survived by his wife Melissa and his daughter, according to a bio posted to the school's website.
Meanwhile, Haab and classmate Zackary Walls told FOX 13 that they put up Kevlar sheets -- normally used in their JROTC program as target backdrops -- to shield themselves and fellow students.
"The Kevlar, it wouldn't have stopped the bullet but it would have slowed it down a lot," he offered
"We were standing there with 2x4s ready to fight if we needed to," Walls added.