People ran helter-skelter when a 19-year-old started shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, this Valentine's Day. 

The exception was Aaron Feis, who is believed to have shielded at least two students from the shooter's bullets, and paid with his life in the process. 

The gun control debate may still be raging in the background, but social media is otherwise filled with emotional messages from all corners, including prominent US lawmakers, who are heaping praise on Feis and mourning his death. 

Feis was not the only teacher among the 17 killed by the shooter. There was also 35-year-old Scott Beigel, who let students into his class and was shot dead when trying to close the door.

Florida school shooting
In picture: Tyra Hemans, a 19-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, sobs as she holds signs honoring slain teachers and friends near the police cordon around the school in Parkland Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018.Reuters

Who was Aaron Feis?

Feis was a student of the very school he was killed in. He graduated from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 1999 and returned as a coach in 2002. 

He continued his stints with the football program of the school until his death.  He is survived by his wife and daughter. 

School spokesperson Denise Lehtio told CNN Feis had been rushed to surgery after he was shot. "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." 

A Twitter handle associated with the school's football program said on Thursday, February 15: "It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis."

It added that the assistant football coach and security guard "selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot." 

It concluded: "He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories."

Colton Haab, a 17-year-old football player with the school, told CNN about Feis: "(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, who was reportedly close to Feis, added: "I'm glad he didn't suffer that much. It's sad because it's not going to be the same without him at school anymore, that's for sure. Football definitely won't be the same. We're definitely going to have to band back together as brothers and mourn his loss and pick up the pieces to try to rebuild our football team."  

A GoFundMe page seeking money that will directly go to support his family has garnered more than $30,000 donations even though the goal was $25,000.

The page says of him: "Coach Feis was a proud member of the MSD football program for many years and our booster club has been honored to have him coach our children and to call him a friend."

Twitter pays emotional tribute

Democratic Party politician Kamala Harris tweeted after the incident: 

ESPN analyst Gene Chizik wrote:

UFC fighter Tim Kennedy had this to say about Feis: 

Miami Herald journalist Nicholas Nehamas tweeted out one of the most emotional tributes to Feis:

As news spread of his death, his students' reactions made their way to other social media platforms as well. Here's what a former student of the school said on Reddit: 

And as it turned out, Feis is being remembered in more ways than one. Here is someone who says Feis replaced his mother in the security guard job that he was doing when he was killed. And this poster is crying thinking "what if it had been my mom instead".