Amid the tragedy of the 17 lives lost after a gunman opened fire last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, tales of heroism have emerged as survivors recall the moments others laid down their lives to protect each other. Here are the stories of some of the people who saved lives.
Aaron Feis, who died saving students
Aaron Feis, 37, worked as an assistant football coach and security guard at the school. Feis threw himself in front of students to shield them from bullets during the shooting at his alma matter. He was shot and later died during surgery.
Freshman student Chris McKenna told the Sun-Sentinel that he had told Feis that he had seen gunman Nikolas Cruz, and that Feis went inside to assess the situation.
"I told him I saw a gun," McKenna said. "He said 'let me go check it out.' Then he drove me to the baseball field, dropped me off, and went back to the school. That's the last I saw of him."prevnext
Michael Leonard, the police officer who arrested shooter
Officer Michael Leonard of the Coconut Creek Police Department recounts the events that followed the fatal shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead: "I was the first officer to make contact with the suspect." https://t.co/mp11iX5Ckz pic.twitter.com/8u3gEXh0KW— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) February 15, 2018
Coconut Creek Police officer Michael Leonard went to the high school to offer any help he could. After seeing the heavy police presence, he decided to search for the suspect in the surrounding neighborhood — and 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.
Once he noticed that the 19-year-old's clothes matched the description given on radio, he followed his instincts and arrested Nikolas Cruz without incident. Cruz later confessed to the killings and is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder.prevnext
Scott Beigel, who died saving students
This is 35 year old, Scott Beigel, he was a Geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Beigel was murdered after letting students take shelter in his classroom & got in the way of the shooter as he tried to enter the class. Beigel saved many lives.February 15, 2018
Geography teacher Scott Beigel, 35, died after opening the door of his classroom to let in a group of students. The teacher then attempted to re-lock the classroom door as the gunman walked by and was shot dead, student Kelsey Friends told Good Morning America.
"He unlocked the door and let us in. I thought he was behind me, but he wasn't," she said. "When he opened the door, he had to relock it so that we could stay safe, but he didn't get the chance."
"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 told CNN. "I am alive today because of him."prevnext
Student Colton Haab, who used Kevlar sheets to hide fellow classmates
Student Colton Haab, who lived through Florida school massacre, says he last saw football coach Aaron Feis "running towards the gunshots as soon as they started to happen" https://t.co/vzakNuLQkq https://t.co/GbywR6jWYM— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) February 15, 2018
After hearing seven gunshots, 17-year-old junior Colton Haab said he ushered 60 to 70 people into a room. The Junior ROTC student saw the Kevlar sheets he and others had used for their marksmanship program and thought they could come in handy.
"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," he told CNN. "I was a little scared. I was more worried about getting home safe, making sure everybody got home safe," he said.prevnext
Melissa Falkowski, who hid 19 of her students in a closet
"The frustration is that we did everything that we were supposed to do. ... and still, to have so many causalities. ... I feel today like our government, our country, has failed us and failed our kids and didn't keep us safe." -FL teacher Melissa Falkowski https://t.co/92t6s5RdPg pic.twitter.com/rQUbu4Z2c6— CNN (@CNN) February 15, 2018
Teacher Melissa Falkowski hid 19 students in a closet after remembering training the school had extensively gone over with its staff. When she heard there was an active shooter on campus, she said she jumped into action.
"I managed to put 19 kids in the closet with me. This is the worst nightmare that could ever happen to you," she told CNN. They remained in the closet for 30 minutes until SWAT officers secured the room.prevnext
Unnamed custodian, who diverted students away from the shooting
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 custodian diverted students away from the direction of the shooting. Senior David Hogg said he and others were inadvertently running toward the shooter.
"Thank God for a janitor that stopped us," Hogg told CNN. The janitor also helped usher students into a culinary room.
"She saved my life and she saved, easily, 40 others there," Hogg added.prevnext
Anthony Borges, who used his body as a shield against gunfire
Anthony Borges is 15 years old.— Rob Bennett (@rob_bennett) February 19, 2018
He was shot 5 times at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
His classmates say he used his body as a human shield to protect them.
Help his family: https://t.co/uJ1YIkTsQc@AMarch4OurLives @emma4change @sarahchad_ @cameron_kasky pic.twitter.com/FnjjVdlcs1
During the chaos of the shooting, 15-year-old student Anthony Borges and a group of classmates ran into a classroom to hide from the gunman. Borges used his body as a human shield to protect his fellow students as he tried to lock the door. He was shot five times. Borges was shot in both legs, his upper thigh bone was shattered and one bullet went through his back, according to a GoFundMe page set up to support his family. He is in stable condition at a hospital.prevnext
Ashley Kurth, who helped hide 65 people
Teacher Ashley Kurth recalls she had "65 kids shoved in my dry storage closet in my office and in my laundry area and all you could hear was screaming and gun shots all around." https://t.co/beG19dvdp1 pic.twitter.com/75HtE97zvF— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 16, 2018
Ashley Kurth, a 34-year-old culinary teacher, told the Daily Beast that she saw "a whole mass of children" running out of the freshman building, where the shooter was, when she went to lock her classroom door.
"It was surreal, just watching them come out like that. I just started grabbing as many kids as I could. I grabbed two of my fellow colleagues and the kids that were with them," she said. "After about 60 or 90 seconds, I shut the door and I got everybody back in our storage area and in my office. Final count, I think we had like 65 in my room."prevnext
Three slain Junior ROTC cadets, who died saving their classmates
It is with broken hearts that Sunrise Post 365 & Stoneman Douglas JROTC shares the loss of our soaring eagles! We honor them, and will miss their courage, tenacity, and their smiles! Cadet Peter Wang, Cadet Martin Duque, and Cadet Alaina Petty. May they always soar high! pic.twitter.com/eg0TKprzMV— sunrisepost365 (@sunrisepost365) February 18, 2018
Slain students Peter Wang, Alaina Petty and Martin Duque are all being awarded Medals of Heroism by the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, the service's highest level of medal for Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets.
All three students were killed while attempting to save their fellow students when the gunman opened fire on them.
Wang was honored at his funeral on Tuesday and buried in his ROTC uniform. An American flag was draped over Petty's coffin.prevnext
Doctors who treated victims
Doctors and nurses in three hospitals treated more than a dozen people injured. They put their feelings aside and saved lives while being confronted with the carnage of the tragedy.0comments
"It was challenging because you don't see young kids being shot and dying in front of you," Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, medical director of trauma services at Broward Health North, told CNN.
Dr. Ivan Puente, a trauma surgeon, said the anger and sadness turns into satisfaction when a patient survives.prev