UNC student, Riley Howell, was honored as a hero in a recent memorial service after he was killed in an attempt to stop an armed gunman at the University of North Carolina. The 21-year-old student managed to save hundreds of lives at the cost of his own when he charged the gunman who opened fire in a lecture hall on the university campus.
It was thanks to Howell’s actions that only one other student perished and four others were injured. Once tackled, officers were able to apprehend the assailant. The four injured students are expected to make a full recovery.
Howell’s memorial service took place on May 5 in Lake Junaluska where hundreds of friends, family members, and military personnel honored the memory of the fallen hero.
Howell was given full military honors as a member of the ROTC after his body was returned to his hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains. According to reports, he was an affectionate, goofy student who was a junior at UNC majoring in environmental studies. The other fallen student, Ellis Parlier, was interested in information technology at UNC.
“[Howell] loved Star Wars, birds, cars, snowboarding, going to the lake, Kentucky Hot Browns, cooking from scratch with cast iron while listening to the Feel Good Classic Soul playlist, and his Lauren,” said a spokesperson for the Howell family in a recent statement. “He was everyone’s protector, always standing up for what he believed in and lending a strong back to those in need.”
The gunman, a previous student at UNC, is being held at the Mecklenburg County Jail with no possibility for bail. The assailant is allegedly being charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, four counts of attempted murder, and a number of other charges.
Such actions performed by the individual prove that you don’t need one of the thousands of military helicopters currently utilized by the United States armed forces; it all boils down to protecting those who need it at any cost.
“I choose to believe that Riley knew that some things were bigger than he was, and he was right where he was supposed to be. Maybe it was to show all of us in the world that selflessness is not gone. We just don’t see it enough,” said family friend Kevin Westmoreland.