There are now flowers at the parking lot where Downs was hit. Pacifica police say his car somehow rolled away before it struck and killed him. School staff was shocked when they heard what happened.
"Basically, his car crushed him, or his van ran him over," said school employee Fabius Rollins. "He was trying to stop it or something."
Downs was the band director at both Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School and Ocean Shore Elementary School, a position he held for 15 years.
"I was like, maybe I want to be that guy or something," said student Patrick O'Malley.
Students looked up to him and parents admired him for his passion for music and his devotion to the students.
"He spent so much time after school with the kids," said O'Malley's mother Kathleen. "He did competitions, he did marching band, concert band. He did drumline. He spent an awful lot of his personal time."
And if students didn't have the money, Downs would never hesitate to help.
"Whatever they needed for marching band, whatever instruments. He would buy instruments. He would buy uniforms. He would buy shoes," said school employee Eric Jones. "He was a real generous guy."
A formal announcement of Downs' death will be made to students during homeroom. Extra counselors will be brought in.