Shooting Hero Was Hit Twice, Kept Charging

Riley Howell Foundation to benefit other victims of violence
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2019 8:34 AM CDT
Shooting Hero Was Hit Twice, Kept Charging
Teddy, brother of Riley Howell, and Lauren Westmoreland, girlfriend of Riley, comfort each other after a memorial service in Lake Junaluska, NC, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

The chairs still sit side by side in a bedroom decked out in Star Wars gear. But the one previously occupied by Riley Howell now carries a note handwritten by his 14-year-old brother: "Reserved for a hero." Laid to rest Sunday with full military honors, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet rushed a gunman inside his classroom at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on April 30, allowing an officer to intervene, per the AP. Shot at least twice before a fatal bullet to the head came at point-blank range—perhaps as he and the gunman were falling—Howell charged the shooter so forcefully that the suspect later complained of internal injuries, his parents say authorities told them. "The chief said no one was shot after Riley body-slammed him," Natalie Henry-Howell tells the New York Times. "Right off the bat, their very first words, 'Your son's a hero.'"

"The bottom line is that Riley countered, brought the fight to the shooter and saved many lives," an officer adds, per the Times. "That was just who he was," Henry-Howell says of the Star Wars fan who once carried a fainted stranger out of a restaurant and made a point of conversing with acquaintances with Alzheimers. As brother Teddy puts it, per Fox News: "My superhero doesn't wear a cape." A foundation in Howell's name, revealed at Sunday's memorial service, will now support other victims of violence, including the family of 19-year-old Ellis Reed Parlier, who was also killed in the shooting. "Our hope is that [Howell's] example resonates with everyone," his obituary reads, per CNN. "We hope others will, if ever the need arises, answer the call to be selfless and do the right thing without hesitation." (The shooting suspect uttered a "cryptic" comment.)

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