When a shooter opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County on Wednesday afternoon, reports emerged on Twitter of a football coach jumping in front of students to protect them from the shooter.
Coach Aaron Feis was initially said to be dead, eliciting tributes on social media. Subsequent posts, including by a fellow coach, said he was wounded but had survived the shooting.
“Coach Feis has not passed. He was shot but is not dead,” Jordan May, the son of Stoneman Douglas High head football coach Willis “Peanut” May and himself a member of the coaching staff, said on Twitter. Willis May was in his office when the mass shooting occurred and escaped unharmed, his son said.
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But by 9 p.m., the hope that had been rekindled on Twitter was extinguished. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel announced that “a beloved football coach is dead.”
Early Thursday, the elder May confirmed that Feis died from gunshot wounds sustained in the shooting. Feis’ family was notified shortly after midnight.
In addition to coaching football, Feis worked as a security guard at the school for at least eight years and took his role protecting students very seriously, said Andrew Hofmann, a former student at the school who recently coached the swimming and water polo teams.
“He’s very well dedicated to the safety of the school during the daytime,” Hofmann said early in the evening, before Israel made his announcement.
Hofmann described the coach as “a quiet person” with a good sense of humor. “When there’s a funny joke, he is always laughing for sure,” he said.
Feis graduated from Stoneman Douglas High in 1999 and worked at the school for his entire coaching career, according to his bio on the school’s website.