Ns News Online Desk: Student Jaime Guttenberg had a brilliant smile; her father still calls her “baby girl.” Football coach Aaron Feis died a hero, jumping in front of the shooter to shield the students behind him.They are among the dead in Parkland, Florida, where on Wednesday, just before dismissal time, a maniacal teen gunman allegedly leveled an AR-15 at his former classmates and teachers, with hideous results.The first thumbnail details are emerging of the 17 lives that authorities say were ended that day by expelled former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, the accused shooter at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Martin Duque, a lanky freshman, was only 14. “Words can not describe my pain,” his brother, Miguel, posted on Instagram. “I love brother Martin you’ll be missed buddy. I know you’re in a better place. Duques forever man,” he wrote, invoking their shared last name. “I love you junior!!!”Alyssa Alhadeff, just 15, was an “innocent soul,” her cousin Ariella Del Quaglio posted on Facebook, alongside a photo of the beaming, slender brunette. “My heart is broken,” her cousin wrote.The Twitter account for the high school’s Eagles football team marked the death of Coach Feis with “Great sadness.”
Feis was critically injured when he threw himself between the shooter and his students, his body taking the bullets that had been meant for them. Feis, a 1999 graduate of the school who left behind a wife and young daughter, died in the hospital Thursday morning. “He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories,” the Eagles post read. Gina Montalto, 14, a freshman who had served on the high school’s winter guard team, died hours after the shooting. “She was the sweetest soul ever,” one of her teachers, color guard instructor Manuel Miranda, told the Miami Herald.
Nicholas Dworet was a senior who had just won a swimming scholarship to the University of Indianapolis, according to journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, a family friend. “So happy to announce my verbal commitment to the university of Indianapolis,” Dworet had recently posted to Instagram. “I can’t wait to spend the next 4 years here!” Chris Hixon, 49, the high school’s athletic director, was also among the dead, a family friend told The Post on Thursday. “He never had an air of judgment,” said former student Becky Van Horn. “And there’s a lot to be said for the way he treated people like they were equal, especially the students.”
“Coach Hixon was an extraordinary man,” Joseline Velarde, who used to work with Hixon at South Broward HS, told The Post.“While most South Broward alumni remember him for being strict and making sure the rules were followed, I remember him as this kind man that always greeted me with a smile,” she said. “He was always ensuring we were all safe and he was always rooting for us from the bleachers at football games,” she said.
“His wit and sarcasm were always followed by laughter. His intentions were always kind.” A GoFundMe account has been set up for the former US Navy reservist. Guttenberg’s brother, Jesse, was also a student at the high school. Only the brother survived. “My heart is broken,” her father, Fred, posted on Facebook. “Yesterday, Jennifer Bloom Guttenberg and I lost our baby girl to a violent shooting at her school. We lost our daughter and my son Jesse Guttenberg lost his sister. I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family get’s through this.”
Luke Hoyer died on the third floor of the high school, according to the Miami Herald. “This has devastated our family and we’re all in shock and disbelief,” his uncle, Toni Brownlee, posted on Facebook. Wrote his aunt, Mary Stroud-Gibbs, “Our Luke was a precious child, who just went to school yesterday not knowing what was to come.” Victim Carmen Schentrup had just been named a 2017 National Merit Scholar semifinalist, the Herald noted.
Scott Beigel, 35, was another faculty member who died a hero, as he protected students from the gunman’s bullets. Beigel made sure students were safely inside his classroom, only to die trying to close and lock the door. “When he opened the door, he had to re lock it so that we could stay safe,” one of the students he saved, Kelsey Friend, told Thursday. “But he didn’t get the chance.”