SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Friends of Dr. John Cheng reflect fondly on memories of their friend from Marshall High School who gave his life while trying to save many others in a mass shooting in Laguna Woods, Ca.

He’s now known across the country as a hero who gave his life to save others but Dr. John Cheng grew up in the ArkLaTex.

Those who knew him well, say they were shocked by the news of his death.

“This is insane,” thought friend Jinny Henson of Shreveport. “How can this be?”

“It was grief, sorrow, sadness, anger,” shared Sam Hammontree.

Dr. Cheng was shot and killed while protecting others during the mass shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

Witnesses say he tackled the gunman, giving others time to tie the suspect’s legs.

Five others were shot, but they survived.

“Without the actions of Dr. Cheng, it is no doubt that there have been numerous additional victims in this crime,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes.

“It does not surprise me that John did what he did,” said Hammontree.

He and Dr. Cheng were friends and classmates at Texas’ Marshall High School, from 1983 through 1987.

“There were three things that stood out about John,” said Hammontree. “One was his faith in Christ. Number two, he was serious about his work, his school work. And three, he was very serious about martial arts.”

“You could just tell he was a very loving person,” shared Henson.

She met Cheng at a Bible Study when they were students at Baylor University. She recalls how he was always aware of his surroundings and was protective of others.

“Very calm, very centered, loved the Lord,” Henson said. “He was born to be a protector and to be a helper.”

Investigators say this shooting was a politically-motivated hate crime. Jinny and Sam both say John fought hate with the ultimate act of love, giving his life for others.

“There’s that quote that we are all leaves on one tree and all waves on one sea,” said Henson. “We hate each other because we either forget that or don’t believe it. We have got to lean in and listen and love one another.”