(Reuters) - A beloved assistant football coach who acted as a human shield to save others was among the 17 people killed in South Florida when a gunman opened fire this week in the second-deadliest shooting ever at a public school in the United States.
The suspect, a reputed gun lover who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, was charged on Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder, a day after the massacre.
Following are profiles of the victims, whose names were officially released on Thursday evening by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. “May they rest in peace and may God comfort their families,” he told reporters after reading the names.
The victims’ loved ones have posted memorials on social media:
Altruism and courage are what drove Feis, an assistant football coach, to give his life to save others, the local sheriff and others said.
“The kids in this community loved him, they adored him ... He was killed tragically, inhumanely, he did it protecting others,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told a news conference.
In a tweet, the high school football team said Feis, who was married with a baby daughter, “selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero.”
A favourite teacher known for his selflessness, Beigel was seen trying to lock his classroom door to protect his students when he was killed, pupil Kelsey Friend told local media. She texted her mother as Beigel lay bleeding, “My teacher’s on the ground!” her mother told local media.
Beigel also served as a staff member at Camp Starlight, a predominately Jewish summer camp in Starlight, Pennsylvania, which said in a Facebook post that he was a “beloved friend and hero.”
Like his father before him, Hixon was a wrestling coach who inspired all of the school’s athletic teams to give their best, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper. As a result, under Hixon’s leadership, the Eagle’s baseball team won a state and national championship in 2016. Hixon, who had children of his own, was married.
Alhadeff was a dual athlete in track and soccer, her grandmother told Miami television station. Parkland Soccer Club said on Facebook that she was a “loved and well respected member of our club” who would be “greatly missed.”
Guttenberg, a freshman who was a talented dancer, was a graceful as a gazelle while delighting her dance teachers with an impish sense of humour, according to Facebook posts. “Dance in Heaven beautiful girl,” posted mentor Michelle McGrath Gerlick.
Brotherly love seemed to infuse the life of Martin Duque, who local media described as a freshman whose older brother Miguel graduated from Douglas High last year.
Alongside an Instagram photograph of the brothers embracing in a handshake, Miguel wrote: “Words can not describe my pain ... I love brother Martin you’ll be missed buddy.”
The school’s Color Guard was made that much brighter when 14-year-old Montalto joined the squad, her instructors said on social media. “She was a smart, loving, caring and strong girl who brightened any room she entered,” her mother said on Facebook.
The Venezuela-born senior had a strong appreciation for music and sports, according to the trail of social media posts he left behind. A new U.S. citizen, the extroverted Oliver often joked around but also was very caring, friends told The Daily Beast.
The excitement of college loomed for Pollack, a senior who planned to attend Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, her father told the Palm Beach Post.
Family grounded her, she said on Facebook. “Nothing makes me happier than my grandma and her smile,” read one of her posts.
A sports-loving freshman, Hoyer played travel basketball and had plans to try out for the football team, his grandmother told FOX Carolina.
Music aficionado Schachter played trombone in the school marching band, the New York Times reported. The freshman lived with his father, after his mother’s death when he was 5 years old, the Times reported.
A member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps, a school program for prospective U.S. military officers known as ROTC, Wang spent his final moments trying to help others, his cousin Aaron Chen told First Coast News. Wang was last seen wearing his gray ROTC uniform and holding open a door open so other people could escape, his cousin said.
An outstanding student, Schentrup distinguished herself in her senior year as a 2018 National Merit Scholar semifinalist.
Dworet, a star athlete, loved swimming. His talent and skills landed him a swimming scholarship to the University of Indianapolis, according to a tweet from @ggreenwald.
In a statement, her family said Petty was a member of the JROTC program and volunteered with the “Helping Hands” program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including a cleanup of the Keys after Hurricane Irma, according to the Miami Herald.
“It is impossible to sum up all that Alaina was, and meant, to her family & friends,” the family wrote, according to the newspaper. “Alaina was a vibrant and determined young woman, loved by all who knew her.”
“RIP Cara, and fly with the angels. You will be greatly missed, and we will always love you and celebrate your beautiful life,” Danny Vogel, her neighbour, wrote on Facebook.
“Helena was a smart, kindhearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was somewhat reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft, warm demeanour brought the best out in all who knew her,” Curtis Page Jr., who described himself as a family member, said on Facebook.
Reporting by Max Lockie and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker