Scott Beigel, a 35-year-old geography teacher and cross-country coach, was one of 17 killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week.
He reportedly opened his classroom to frightened students fleeing from 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz — and it was in his doorway, while locking out Cruz, where he was shot to death.
"He died shielding his students from gunfire," Matt Hipps, Beigel’s friend and fellow former Camp Starlight counselor, wrote on Facebook. "He made the ultimate sacrifice to do what he so often effortlessly did — make the lives of other people better."
One of Beigel’s students, Kelsey Friend, told CNN that he saved her life. "Mr. Beigel was my hero and he still will forever be my hero," she said. "I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom. I am alive today because of him."
The Stoneman Douglas attendee later said that while she didn’t see Beigel get shot, the sound of it still haunts her.
Beigel’s funeral took place on Sunday in Boca Raton, Florida. His fiancée, Gwen, revealed a past dialogue they had while watching coverage of a school shooting on TV.
"Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth," Gwen recalled him saying, the New York Post reported, "tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff."
"OK, Scott, I did what you asked. Now I can tell the truth," she continued. "You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate."
Beigel had only reportedly been working at Stoneman Douglas for six months. Despite what he had wanted, his acts of courage in the face of mass tragedy deem him a hero — and that's worth talking about.
"I don’t want Scott’s memory to be the horrific moment on that afternoon," Beigel's father said at the funeral, according to Newsday. "Scott’s heroism was not that instant. Scott’s heroism was his entire life."