Aaron Feis is pictured with his daughter, Arielle, in an undated family photo. The assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was gunned down Feb. 14, 2018, as he shielded students from a gunman. Feis was one of 17 people killed in the mass shooting.
“It’s not often that an image pops in your brain and you feel a lump in your throat,” Guerra told The Washington Post. “I need to get this down before time dilutes it,” she recalled thinking in the early morning as she got the idea to create a sketch in honor of fallen hero Aaron Feis.
It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis. He was our Assistant Football Coach and security guard. He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories pic.twitter.com/O181FvuHl3
When the shooting started last Wednesday, Feis — a school security guard as well as assistant football coach — reportedly stepped between the shooter and students, taking bullets in the act. He was reportedly hospitalized before dying from his wounds.
Although she considers herself an atheist and said the image isn’t meant to represent “angels and heaven,” Guerra, 46, wanted to capture the idea that “all these brave, beautiful, vibrant people should still be with us.”
That all these brave, beautiful, vibrant people should still be with us.
“Wherever all these wonderful people are, they’re not here,” she told the Post. Guerra reportedly wanted to visually portray the sheer number of people lost in mass school shootings, while also leaving the image open for people to find their own meanings.
Although most people have been touched, Guerra’s tribute has drawn some ire from people who think she did not well-represent the various races of all those who died in mass shootings, rather than just white people.
“That was a direct result of rushing and not paying more attention to the makeup of the crowd, and maybe making a point about how these things always seem to happen in white suburbia and totally mucking it up,” Guerra said, promising to “do better.”
In the past, Guerra has used her cartoons to vent, but this one was especially “emotional.” She plans on creating more of these works relating to the shooting, and encourages more people to remain involved in its aftermath.
“It’s more emotional, it’s more personal … a gut reaction,” she said. “This is a whole other level.”
She added: “We should be engaged in this. We should use our voices … whatever it is we have to amplify what’s important to us.”
Feis was one of three faculty members and 14 students killed on Valentine’s Day when authorities said former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire on his high school with an AR-15. He was arrested following the shooting and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is currently being held without bond.