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Scott Beigel, Aaron Feis, and Chris Hixon
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

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Three ordinary men who became extraordinary heroes in Florida school shooting

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

PARKLAND, Florida, February 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Out of Ash Wednesday’s appalling carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, inspiring stories of three real-life heroes have emerged. These men unhesitatingly put the lives of their students ahead of their own, and in so doing, sacrificed themselves.

Who knew before this week that this one public high school had so many heroic men walking its hallways, teaching in its classrooms, and coaching on its athletic fields? All three were part of the school’s athletic department.   

Yet these ordinary men—suddenly cast into extraordinary circumstances when, in the blink of an eye, their school turned into a warzone—proved themselves to be extraordinary men. 

Assistant football coach Aaron Feis, cross country coach Scott Beigel and athletic director Chris Hixon are being hailed as heroes.

Aaron Feis, Football Coach

Assistant football coach Aaron Feis, 37 years old, 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 football program spokeswoman Denis Lehtio. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

Student Colton Haab told CNN he saw Feis running toward the sounds of gunshots. “That's Coach Feis. He wants to make sure everybody is safe before himself,” Haab said.

"(He) made sure everyone else's needs were met before his own. He was a hard worker. He worked after school, on the weekends, mowing lawns, just helping as many people as possible," Haab added.

“It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis,” declared a tweet from the schools Athletic department. “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.”

“When Aaron Feis died, when he was killed tragically,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, whose two sons played for Feis, “he did it protecting others because that is who Aaron Feis was.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted: “Football coach Aaron Feis courageously sacrificed his life shielding kids from gunfire. Aaron’s selfless heroism says infinitely more about the character of the American people than the evil acts of a cowardly killer ever will.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also weighed in, offering his condolences on behalf of “the entire football community” on Twitter.

Feis leaves behind his wife and daughter. 

Scott Beigel, Teacher

Geography teacher and cross country coach Scott Beigel “unlocked a door to his room to let students escape the carnage,” according to a report in the Boston Herald. “He was shot and killed while trying to lock the door. He was a ‘favorite teacher’ among several students who spoke after the shooting, including one girl who had to walk past his dead body after the shooting stopped.”

“He was my hero, and he will forever be my hero," student Kelsey Friend told CNN. “I'll never forget the actions he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom. He was an amazing person, and I am alive today because of him.”

Student Chad Williams tweeted on Thursday: “I have said RIP too many times in the past 24 hours but RIP coach Beagle. You are a king and heaven got a good one. rest easy…”

Jason Lederman said: “Yesterday a man who had a profound impact on me and so many others was murdered in a mass shooting. Scott Beigel was always a hero and someone who brought joy and compassion to all those he knew. We will all mourn Scott—the world is a sadder place without him in it.” 

Beigel was 35 years old. 

Chris Hixon, Athletic Director

“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.”

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.”

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!!!”

In addition to his wife, Hixon leaves behind two children. 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s three heroes are among the seventeen lives taken by the rampage of nineteen-year-old gunman, Nicholas Cruz. While fourteen student lives were lost, many more could have been added to the carnage were it not for the heroic bravery of these men.

A moving commentary in the Boston Herald memorializing south Florida’s new heroes said: 

Go out and buy your kid an Aaron Feis mask. Or a Chris Hixon hat. Or a Scott Beigel shirt.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stockpiled real-life superheroes disguised as coaches.

They did not wear capes. They did not use special effects. And you won’t see them in any Marvel movie.

Assistant football coach Feis, athletic director and wrestling coach Hixon and cross country coach Beigel instinctively and without hesitation gave their lives so that the children they loved and mentored and taught and coached could live.

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