Players, coaches grieve loss of ‘hero’ coach in Florida school shooting
Courtesy Ryan Mackman(PARKLAND, Fla.) — A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football player who joined teammates and coaches in an interview that aired Friday on Good Morning America remembered slain coach and campus monitor Aaron Feis as “one of the best guys I know.”
Feis, who was among the 17 people whom a former student allegedly killed Wednesday in a shooting rampage, died while saving lives, according to authorities, who were unable to provide details.
But the particulars don’t matter to grieving players such as Robbie Rodriquez, a junior on the football team.
The coach, 37, was “one of the best guys I know — just open-hearted, open to anyone, always there for people.”
Others players expressed similar sentiments.
“Say someone messed up; he wouldn’t come over screaming at you,” sophomore Gage Gaynor told Good Morning America. “He’d come over, tell you what you did wrong, tell you how you could do it right.”
Teammate Patrick Scullen, a junior, called Feis a “great coach” and “great man.”
“He always put a smile on my face every single day,” Patrick added.
Team head coach Willis May shared his shock on hearing the news, adding that it will be tough to return to coaching without Feis by his side.
“I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want it to be true,” May said, adding, “Things are going to be real hard to go back to school and not see my buddy.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who confirmed the death Thursday morning, said Feis died “protecting others — guarantee that because that’s who Aaron Feis was. He was one of the greatest people I knew. He was a phenomenal man.”
The sheriff described Feis as a beloved football coach who was well-known in the local community.
“I coached with him. My two boys played for him,” Israel said. “The kids in this community loved him, adored him.”
The alleged shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was arrested for premeditated murder and held without bond Thursday afternoon, authorities said. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School remains closed on Friday, according to Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
Cruz had been expelled from the high school for unspecified disciplinary reasons, authorities said. A former classmate and a former teacher told ABC News that Cruz was barred from carrying a backpack on campus prior to his expulsion.
Wednesday’s school shooting is among the deadliest in U.S. history. Cruz allegedly used an AR-15-style rifle that he legally purchased within the past year from a federally licensed dealer, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
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