At least 17 people are dead after a deadly mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday afternoon.
The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was reportedly a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting took place. Despite initially evading arrest as he blended in with students fleeing the building, police later apprehended Cruz, who has been arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. The tragedy marks the 18th school shooting — and the 40th mass shooting — this year.
Information about the victims is slowly coming to light. We will be naming them and sharing their stories as more become known.
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 be in our hearts and memories pic.twitter.com/O181FvuHl3
— MS Douglas Football (@MSDEagles) February 15, 2018
Feis was an assistant football coach and security guard at the high school. He died after jumping in front of a student and the shooter, pushing the student through a door and out of danger.
The football team confirmed Feis’s death on Twitter early Thursday morning.
“He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot,” the tweet said. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”
Douglas football coach Willis May described Feis as a “big ol’ teddy bear” to local media.
“Hardcore — he coached hard,” May told the Orlando Sentinel. “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.”
According to a biography on the high school website, Feis leaves behind a wife, Melissa, and a young daughter, Arielle.
Feis attended Douglas himself, and played center for the Eagles from 1995 to 1998.
“After graduating in 1999, he decided to pay it forward and return to Douglas in 2002,” his biography said. He had been a security guard at the school for eight years.
Guttenberg was a student at Douglas, and her death was confirmed by local media late Wednesday. Her parents, Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, also had a son, Jesse, who reportedly made it home safely.
Guttenberg’s Facebook page, which was changed to a memorial page, was already filled with tributes Thursday morning, and her cousin, Alexa Saka, posted a tribute late Wednesday night.
“You grew up to be the most beautiful, kind-hearted, driven, funny and sweet girl,” Saka wrote on Facebook. “You went out of your way to make everyone feel good and that smile… that smile lit up every single room you walked into. I will always cherish the time we had together. I will never understand why you were taken from us so soon but you will never be gone. You hold such a special place in my heart. My sweet baby cousin, may you sleep with the angels tonight and always.”
Her father also wrote a post about his daughter on Facebook saying that his “heart is broken.”
“We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister. I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family get’s through this,” he wrote. “We appreciate all of the calls and messages and we apologize for not reacting to everyone individually. Jen and I will be figuring things out today and so we ask that you respect out privacy. We will be getting messages out later regarding visitation. Hugs to all and hold your children tight.”
Duque, 14, was a freshman at Douglas. He was killed in the shooting Wednesday.
His brother confirmed his death on Instagram early Thursday, writing, “Words cannot describe my pain… I know you’re in a better place.”
According to friends and family members on social media, Oliver, a Douglas student, was among those killed in the shooting.
On Wednesday, his sister, Andrea Ghersi, posted on Facebook saying they hadn’t heard from Oliver, who was at the school during the shooting.
Early Thursday, friends of Oliver’s began posting tributes on Twitter.
He didn’t make it… I love you cuz. I’m sorry for all this. I’m at a loss of words. pic.twitter.com/X9cJ6juCxh
— Javi (@Javier_Lovera__) February 15, 2018
my brother has passed. i’m in such shock i don’t know what to say. i love you so much, i hope you’re in a better place. and i’ll never forget you https://t.co/5qUlufQ7N5
— sebi (@sebiloveschoco) February 15, 2018
“He didn’t made it,” one wrote, adding pictures of Oliver. “I’m at a loss of words.”
“i love you so much, i hope you’re in a better place,” tweeted another. “i’ll never forget you.”
Hixon, 49, was the school’s athletic director. The Sun-Sentinel reported he had been shot Wednesday, and friends confirmed his death on social media Thursday.
“RIP Chris Hixon,” Aaron Gonzales, a recruiting assistant for Florida Atlantic University football tweeted. “I left Douglas to take a job at a rival school. I came back to watch a lacrosse game to find Chris running the ticket gate. He shook my hand, asked how I was, let me in for free and said ‘once an Eagle, always an Eagle.’”
Coral Springs High School athletic director Dan Jacob told local media Wednesday that Hixon was “such a great guy.”
“Chris is probably the nicest guy I have ever met. He would give you the shirt off his back,” Jacobs said. “He does so much. That is terrible that it would happen to anybody. It is so senseless. I am crushed.”
Under Hixon, the school’s baseball team won a state and national championship in 2016.
A wrestling coach at another local school told the Sun-Sentinel Hixon was a “super human being.”
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Author: E.A. Crunden