UNCC victim who died trying to stop gunman will be buried with military honors

By Sophie Lewis

/ CBS News

UNCC shooting victim Riley Howell "stood out"

Riley Howell, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte student who died while trying to stop an on-campus shooter, will be buried with military honors Sunday, Wells Funeral Home confirmed to CBS News.

Howell, 21, was an ROTC participant and has been hailed a hero for trying to stop the gunman. More than 30,000 people signed a petition to properly honor him. According to the funeral home, the ROTC made the decision to bury Howell with military honors.

Lt. Col. Chunka Smith, who runs the university's ROTC program, said he was unable to discuss the funeral plans out of respect for the Howell family, but said the Army and National Guard "will ensure that Riley Howell is properly recognized for his heroism."

Riley Howell Handout

Howell "took the fight to the assailant" and "took the assailant off his feet," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chief of Police Kerr Putney said. If it wasn't for what Howell did, he said the assailant "may not have been disarmed."

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"Unfortunately he gave his life in the process, but his sacrifice saved lives," Putney said.

Smith said he's not surprised Howell gave his life for others. "I would tell you, he stood out," Smith said. "As a soldier, we understand what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice."

Howell's family issued a statement on Wednesday, calling him a "big muscular guy with a huge heart." "He was the kind of person who you knew would take care of you the moment you met him, and he always did. He radiated love and always will," the statement read.

Police said Trystan Andrew Terrell, armed with a handgun that was purchased legally, killed two people and wounded four others at the school before campus police disarmed and arrested him, authorities said.

The two students who were killed were identified as Howell and 19-year-old Ellis Parlier. Drew Pescaro, 19; Sean Dehart, 20; Emily Houpt, 23; and Rami Alramadhan, 20; were injured in the attack.

Chip Reid contributed to this report.

First published on May 4, 2019 / 5:05 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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