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Motive Unclear, but a 'Cryptic' Comment From UNC Suspect

Meanwhile, Riley Howell's body has been returned to his hometown
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2019 1:03 PM CDT

(Newser) – Slain UNC Charlotte student Riley Howell was given "a hero's sendoff" Thursday, the AP reports, with a police motorcade escorting his body from Charlotte to the 21-year-old's hometown of Waynesville, NC, 150 miles away. The Mountaineer reports that people who wanted to give Howell "a hero's welcome" were invited to line the final two blocks of the route to the Waynesville funeral home. Howell gave his life to confront the shooter who killed one other and injured four in a classroom Tuesday. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to raise money for his funeral and other family expenses, but the funeral home has not yet listed service details. More on Howell and other new details related to the shooting:

  • Howell's parents, siblings, and longtime girlfriend appeared on Today Thursday. "There was no question, there was no doubt that he would have done what he did," his 14-year-old brother said. "He put others before himself ... He always has. ... He's always been my hero." Mom Natalie Henry-Howell said the family is "just beyond proud," while girlfriend Lauren Westmoreland added, "The last thing that I got to say to him was that I loved him."

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  • Details were also emerging about the second student killed, 19-year-old Ellis Parlier, who was in the same class as Howell when the gunman opened fire. "He was really funny and super nice," a longtime friend tells CBS News. "I'll remember him as a passionate guy who was a great friend and resource." Friends and family held private services for him Wednesday, WBTV reports.
  • The injured students are Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saihat, Saudi Arabia; Sean Dehart, 20, of Apex, NC; Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte; and Drew Pescaro, 19, of Apex. Dehart is out of the hospital and the others are expected to recover, the Charlotte Observer reports.
  • The alleged shooter's motives are unclear, but the Observer reports that as he was being taken into police headquarters, handcuffed, he appeared to make this "cryptic" comment in response to a reporter's question: "I just went into his classroom and shot the guy."
  • "We know there was some familiarity with that building in particular," the police chief says, per CNN. "The choice of that building was by design. It was intentional." And a 21-year-old student tells the Observer he sat at the table next to the suspect in the same class where the shootings took place; the suspect had apparently dropped that course and two others. But police have said the suspect, a former student, didn't appear to specifically target any of his former classmates.
  • The 22-year-old suspect was due in court for his first appearance Thursday, ABC News reports.
(Read more University of North Carolina stories.)

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