(NEWSER) – The teacher killed in today's school shooting in Nevada has been identified by his family as Michael Landsberry, 45, a math teacher at Sparks Middle School who had previously served in the Marines. A local police deputy chief described Landsberry as a "hero" for intervening in the shooting and trying to get the young gunman to put his weapon down, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. "To hear he was trying to protect those kids, that he stepped up and tried to stop the situation, doesn’t surprise me at all," says his sister-in-law Chanda Landsberry. "He could have ducked and hid, but he didn’t. That’s not who he is." Landsberry was also a member of the Nevada Army National Guard. "He loved his school kids. He loved the Guard,” she says. “It defined him."