A football coach who shielded students from the Florida shooter died as he lived — by putting himself second

(CNN)– Football coach Aaron Feis threw himself in front of students as bullets hailed down Wednesday at his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

It would become perhaps the final act undertaken by this assistant coach and security guard, who suffered a gunshot wound and later died after he was rushed into surgery, according to the school’s football program and its spokeswoman, Denise Lehtio.

“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” Lehtio said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

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

Feis was among 17 people killed when a former student armed with a rifle opened fired on campus, unleashing a massacre that stands among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.

Janitor ushers students to safety

Feis, who spent his whole career at the school after graduating from Stoneman Douglas, was among countless heroes whose stories began emerging after Wednesday’s horror

Teacher Melissa Falkowski hid 19 students in a closet as the shooting erupted. Most students communicated silently on their phones, she said. Others burst into tears.

Related: At least 17 dead in ‘horrific’ Florida school shooting, suspect had ‘countless magazines’

“This is the worst nightmare that could ever happen to you,” she told CNN.

Meantime, as a fire alarm blared, a janitor diverted senior David Hogg and other students away from the direction of the shooting, Hogg told CNN affiliate KTRK. A teacher then opened a classroom door so they could hide.

“Without her, who knows how many of us would have died, ’cause we were easily 100 feet away from the freshman building,” Hogg said, “and again, we thought this was a drill.”

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