By Nicole Chavez, CNN
He died shielding students from gunfire. He captured the gunman. She hid students in a closet.
Tales of heroism have emerged as survivors recall the moments after a gunman opened fire Wednesday at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Here are the stories of some of the people who saved lives:
A football coach died shielding students from gunfire
(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. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach, was killed when he threw himself in front of students to protect them from oncoming bullets.
“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” said Denis Lehtio, a football program spokesman. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
The 37-year-old coach ran toward the sounds of gunshots and shielded three girls from gunfire, according to Colton Haab, a 17-year-old junior.
He suffered a gunshot wound and died during surgery, Lehtio said.
The officer who caught the gunman
(One of the police officers who arrested Nikolas Cruz spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon. Courtesy of WPBF 25 News and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
Coconut Creek Police officer Michael Leonard went to the school to offer any support he could.
After seeing scores of officers there, he decided to search for the suspect around the neighborhood.
He found him.
“He looked like a typical high school student and for a quick moment I thought ‘could this be the person? is this who I need to stop?,” Leonard said of the first time he saw the shooter.
Leonard followed his instincts after seeing that the teenager’s clothes matched the description given on radio. He arrested him without incident.
A teacher who ushered students to safety
(The stories that rip at our hearts are the ones detailing the fear and terror at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Courtesy of Eyewitness News ABC7NY and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
Scott Beigel, geography teacher, was killed as he tried to usher students back into his classroom when the shooting broke out.
His student Kelsey Friend told CNN that he saved her life before he was shot outside the classroom door.
“Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom,” Friend said.
“I am alive today because of him.”
The 35-year-old teacher was also a summer counselor at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania, which called him a “friend and hero” on Facebook.
A student who shielded others with Kevlar
(Colton Haab one-on-one interview. Courtesy of Fox & Friends, Fox News and YouTube)
After hearing seven gunshots, 17-year-old Colton Haab, ushered 60 to 70 people in a room.
The Junior ROTC student saw the Kevlar sheets he and others used for the marksmanship program. They could come in handy, he thought.
“We took those sheets, and we put them in front of everybody so they weren’t seen, because they were behind a solid object and the Kevlar would slow the bullet down,” Haab told CNN on Thursday.
“I was a little scared. I was more worried about getting home safe, making sure everybody got home safe,” he said.
A teacher who hid 19 students in a closet
(Melissa Falkowski, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, hid with 19 students in a closet during the shooting there, and all of them made it out safely. She tells TODAY she put her own feelings aside to try to keep her students calm: “I just did my job.” She says that not talking about gun control after mass shootings “hasn’t gotten us anywhere” and adds “Congress is failing us, the government is failing us.” Courtesy of TODAY and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
There was a shooter on campus and there was no time — that’s all Melissa Falkowski knew.
“I managed to put 19 kids in the closet with me,” said Falkowski, a teacher. “This is the worst nightmare that could ever happen to you.”
Most students stood in silence while on their phones, others burst into tears. Falkowski said she just tried to hold herself together.
“You try to do the best you can for the kids you are supposed to keep safe,” she added.
Other students pushed bookshelves against doors and covered windows with paper to avoid anyone from seeing inside.
A janitor who told students to run the other way
This student said he was unknowingly running toward the gunman — until a janitor told him and his classmates to go the other way https://t.co/TsHNaTFwC0
— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) February 15, 2018
A janitor diverted students away from the direction of the shooting.
David Hogg, a senior, says he and others were inadvertently running toward the gunman.
“Thank God for a janitor that stopped us,” Hogg said. The janitor also helped usher students into a culinary room.
“She saved my life and she saved, easily, 40 others there,” he added.
Doctors who treated the victims
(Doctor helps Parkland school shooting victims in Broward County. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
Doctors and nurses in three hospitals treated more than a dozen people injured.
They came face to face with the carnage, putting their feelings aside and ultimately saving lives.
“It was challenging because you don’t see young kids being shot and dying in front of you,” said Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, medical director of trauma services at Broward Health North.
There was anger and sadness, but when a patient survives, anxiety turns into satisfaction, said Dr. Ivan Puente, a trauma surgeon.
(CNN’s Anderson Cooper shares the names and stories of 17 victims who were gunned down during a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
CNN’s Eric Levenson, Jamiel Lynch, Amir Vera and David Williams contributed to this report.
Another Hero in the Florida School Shooting
By Doug Mainwaring
Chris Hixon, Athletic Director
(A Lehigh Valley native is among those killed during a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Courtesy of 69News WFMZ-TV and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
“We had an athletic director [Hixon], a campus monitor [Feis] who responded immediately when there was signs of trouble in the school,” said Broward County Superintendent of Schools Robert W. Runcie during a news conference Thursday.
“Unfortunately those two heroes gave their lives for our kids and probably helped prevent this from being a worse tragedy than it is today.”
(Learn More. Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie joins Morning Joe to discuss the latest details in Wednesday’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. Courtesy of MSNBC and YouTube. Posted on Feb 15, 2018)
Chris Hixon, athletic director and wrestling coach, was a 49-year-old Naval reservist who had deployed to Iraq in 2007.
“He loved being an American and serving his country and he instilled that in our kids,” said His widow, Debra in a CNN interview.
He would give students rides or lunch money and, if they needed it, open up his home to them. “He just loved being around kids and giving back to the community.”
A tweet honoring Hixon said, “This is Chris Hixon, he’s 49 years old & was Parkland High School’s athletic director.
Hixon served as a US Naval Reservist in 2007. He won a state championship in 2016. Hixon was protecting students when he was senselessly murdered in Florida.”
This is Chris Hixon, he’s 49 years old & was Parkland High School’s athletic director. Hixon served as a US Naval Reservist in 2007. He won a state championship in 2016. Hixon was protecting students when he was senselessly murdered in Florida. pic.twitter.com/qX7PpmQBwk
— Simar (@sahluwal) February 15, 2018
Speaking of both Feis and Hixon, Blustein Recruiting tweeted, “RIP Aaron Feis and Chris Hixon.
Two Men Who Have Influenced Lives and Have Made An Impact When The Cameras And Reporters Were Never Around! Special People Who Loved What They Did!!!”
RIP Aaron Feis and Chris Hixon. Two Men Who Have Influenced Lives and Have Made An Impact When The Cameras And Reporters Were Never Around! Special People Who Loved What They Did!!! #PrayingForDouglas @MSDEagles pic.twitter.com/Kg5KDNpfLP
— Blustein Recruiting (@larryblustein) February 15, 2018
In addition to his wife, Hixon leaves behind two children.
Editor’s Post. There are no words. Please join us in prayer for all those suffering from this terrible tragedy.