Scott Beigel was one of the heroic adults who shielded his students from a spray of bullets after authorities say Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.
Beigel, 35, is believed to have been struck by a bullet after opening his door for students to take shelter in his classroom, according to a student who spoke to Good Morning America. As he was attempting to re-lock the door, Cruz allegedly gunned him down. Seventeen people, including Beigel, lost their lives in the mass shooting and 15 people were wounded. The motive is still under investigation.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is a former student who is being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, Heavy reports.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Scott Beigel Died While Ushering Students to Safety
Kelsey Friend, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, broke down while recounting Beigel’s heroic final moments to Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos.
According to the reports, Beigel opened the door of his classroom to let Friend and a group of students fleeing the gunman into the room. When Beigel attempted to re-lock the door, the gunman allegedly shot him dead.
“He unlocked the door and let us in,” Friend sobbed to Stephanopoulos. “I thought he was behind me but he wasn’t. When he opened the door, he had to re-lock it so we can stay safe. But he didn’t get the chance to.”
“I’m so thankful that he was there to help everybody who did live in that classroom,” Friend continued emotionally. “He was in the doorway, and the door was still open and the shooter probably didn’t know we were in there because Mr. Beigel was laying on the floor.”
Friend and the group of students with her hid behind Beigel’s desk when he was shot, according to Local 10 News. Friend said they stayed in the classroom trying not to make any sound until the SWAT team came to rescue them, reports Local 10.
“So if the shooter would’ve came into the room I probably wouldn’t be speaking to you right now,” she continued, crying. Friend goes on to talk about Beigel’s teaching, and how he helped explain things to students in an easier way to better help them grasp the content of the course.
“I will truly, in every moment of my life, miss him,” she told Local 10.
You can watch the full interview with Local 10 News here.
2. Beigel Was a Geography Teacher and a Former Camp Counselor
Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher and cross country coach at Stoneman at the time of his death.
Beigel has a history of working with the youth; he was a Divisional Leader at Camp Starlight for five years in Pennsylvania where he worked with senior boys and “loved showing off his collection of Fedora hats,” Metro News reports.
Another tribute from Melissa Strauss said “The Starlight family has lost a man who was an inspiration to many. I will cherish the words of wisdom, the talks we would have, the jokes you would tell, the clown story and stories about my brother from when you were his counselor,” according to Metro.
Camp Starlight is located in Starlight, PA, according to their Twitter page. “Camp Starlight is a premiere summer camp, where boys & girls can choose from over 60 programs and activities.”
3. Beigel was Remembered by in Tributes by Loved Ones as Funny, Selfless and Caring
According to David Lurie, one of many people paying tribute to Beigel on social media, Beigel was his Division Head Counselor for two years. He described Beigel as “one of the funniest, [most] selfless and caring people” around, an incredible camp counselor and a remarkable teacher.
Lurie reminiscences about Beigel sharing stories of his youth with campers and waking them up at 5 a.m. for being too loud the night before, and mentions Beigel was “always looking out for the best of us.”
Twitter user Scott Geldzahler talks about Beigel putting the safety of his students before his own as one of “the most in-character things I could think of.” He expressed how Beigel was a role model, and helped shaped the lives of thousands of young adults.
Adam Schwartz wrote “You were one of my favorite counselors growing up and my Olympics General my senior year. Those kids were incredibly lucky to have you, you are a real hero. RIP.”
Evan Greene posted a video with memories of spending summers at Camp Starlight with Beigel.
Metro also reports that Friend, one of the students that Beigel gave his life to protect, directed a message to Beigel’s loved ones. She added: “Thank you for bringing and having this amazing person in life and giving him the power to be stronger than I could have ever been.”
Others talked of Beigel having had an immense impact on their lives, as well as somebody who brought joy and compassion to everyone he knew.
4. Beigel was Among at Least Five Members of the Jewish Community Killed in the Massacre
Four Jewish students and a teacher were confirmed Thursday to be among the 17 victims killed during the mass shooting, according to The Times of Israel.
Beigel, as well as four students – Jaime Guttenberg, Alyssa Alhadeff, Alex Schachter and Meadow Pollack – were apart of the Jewish community in Parkland, reports the The Times.
According to The Times, Rabbi Shuey Biston of Chabad of Parkland said rabbis have coordinated with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to ensure that the bodies of the victims be released as soon as possible for burial, in keeping with Jewish tradition.
The Jewish community in Parkland was reeling over the massacre, concerned about the many members of the community that attend or teach at the school, reports the Times. According to the rabbis, several students who were in the school at the time of the shooting came to the Thursday morning prayers to recite a traditional blessing giving thanks for salvation from a life-threatening event, The Times reports.
“This is a very close-knit community,” Rabbi Mendy Gutnick, also of Chabad of Parkland told The Times. “It’s a very high-density Jewish community as well. Demographically, it’s one that always felt very pristine and sort of protected from any bad news or any crime or anything like that. It’s one of the safest cities in America. And this has changed the whole city. We’ve lost our innocence.”
He went on, “There is just a feeling of absolute numbness. Kids don’t know what to do, they don’t know what to think. Every single kid is traumatized. The emotional scarring on this city is absolutely devastating and people are hoping that we can come together and we can show solidarity and somehow manage to move on. But the truth is, this city will never be the same.”
5. The Other Victims Include a Football Coach, a Soccer Player and a Dancer, Among Others
Both students and staff were targeted by the gunman. Seventeen people were killed and another 15 people were injured. The deceased include Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard at the school. Feis “threw himself in front of students” as the shooter opened fire, shielding them from bullets, according to CNN.
Alyssa Alhadeff was a student at the school and a soccer player for Parkland Travel Soccer. According to a relative of Alhadeff’s, her family was notified of her passing on Wednesday night, CNN reports.
Parkand Travel Soccer took to Facebook to pay tribute to Alhadeff.
“Alyssa Alhadeff was a loved and well respected member of our club and community,” Parkland Travel Soccer said on Facebook. “Alyssa will be greatly missed.”
Her Facebook page also included a message from her family, urging friends to honor Alyssa by doing something “fabulous in your life.”
“Don’t ever give up and inspire for greatness,” the message read. “Live for Alyssa! Be her voice and breath for her. Alyssa loved you all forever!”
Jaime Guttenberg, a Freshman at the school, also died during the massacre, according to ABC 10 News, which reported that her brother made it home alive. Jaime was a dancer at Dance Theatre of Parkland, according to tributes left for her on Facebook.
Jaime’s father, Fred, a local real estate agent, took to Facebook to express his grief. “My heart is broken. 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. We appreciate all of the calls and messages and we apologize for not reacting to everyone individually. Jen and I will be figuring things out today and so we ask that you respect out privacy. We will be getting messages out later regarding visitation. Hugs to all and hold your children tight.”