An assistant football coach at Stoneman Douglas (Parkland, Fla.)
, who died from injuries suffered during Wednesday's deadly shooting massacre on the South Florida campus, is being called a hero.
Aaron Feis — one of 17 fatalities in the school shooting — stepped in the path of gunfire and possible victims, according to multiple media reports.
The Stoneman Douglas football twitter page announced early Thursday morning the loss of their coach. "He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories."
Feis, who was married and had a young daughter, has drawn praise for his selfless act — media reports say that Feis shielded several students from gunfire.
Stoneman Douglas head football coach Willis May told the Sun-Sentinel
that he heard from one student that Feis "jumped between her
and the shooter, to push her out through a door and out of the line of
A 1999 graduate of the school, Feis was a security guard on campus for at least eight years and a larger-than-life figure on campus.
"Big ol' teddy bear," May told the Sun-Sentinel. "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."
Social media universally praised Feis' selfless actions with messages honoring the 37-year-old coach.
Feis was one of four connected to Stoneman Douglas athletics who died as a result of Wednesday's shooting, according to the Washington Post
Chris Hixon, the school's athletic director and wrestling coach, was killed as were Nick Dworet, a college-bound swimmer and Alyssa Alhadeff, a girls soccer standout.
Hixon, a 49-year-old Iraq veteran was remembered by Coach May as "good person."
“I was close to him,” May told the Miami Herald
. “When he likes you and trusts you, you
become friends. We were to that point where we were being able to trust
each other. We had each other’s back. He’s a good person. He’s good to
Dworet, who last week signed a letter of intent to the University of Indianapolis, was described as a driven young man turned around by the sport he loved.
"I'm telling you from the bottom of my heart he just took his life in his hands and he chiseled and molded his life," wrote his aquatics coach Andre Bailey.
Alhadeff played junior varsity soccer at the school, as well as with Parkland Travel Soccer, which said conveyed a message from her parents via social media.
The school will be closed Thursday and Friday, and all athletic events were postponed, including a regional quarterfinal playoff girls basketball game. It was a game that junior Maddy Wilford was preparing to play.
Instead, Wilford was reported by the Sun-Sentinel to be in a second surgery fighting for her life after being one of 15 wounded during the rampage.
In a Facebook post, her coach Marilyn Rule wrote "One of my basketball players is fighting for her life! Please pray for Maddy Wilford."
Former student Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested and taken into custody for one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history.