Florida football coach who heroically shielded students from bullets dies

Aaron Feis was shot, killed jumping in front of students to protect them

By Ben Spicer - Web Producer

PARKLAND, Fla. - An assistant football coach with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died shielding students from bullets during the shooting rampage in Parkland, Florida, the school's team announced in a tweet.

According to witnesses, Aaron Feis was shot and killed protecting people from the gunfire on Wednesday afternoon. Head coach Willis May confirmed the news Thursday to news station WPLG.

"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 he in our hearts and memories,” the tweet said.

RELATED: Florida teen charged with 17 murder counts in school attack

Authorities say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets.

Investigators identified Cruz from school security videos before arresting him in Coral Springs, according to police.His first court appearance was expected Thursday afternoon.

It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago. The overall death toll differs by how such shootings are defined, but Everytown For Gun Safety has tallied 290 school shootings in America since 2013, and the attack makes 18 so far this year.

RELATED: Interactive story map details school shootings in U.S. in 2018

"Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow," said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour's drive north of Miami. "It is a horrible day for us."

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