A North Carolina college student hailed by police as a hero for preventing more injuries and deaths after a gunman opened fire in a classroom has now been immortalized as a Jedi by the production company for the Star Wars franchise, the AP reports. News outlets report the family of Riley Howell, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte student who died in the attack and is described as a huge Star Wars fan, was tipped off by Lucasfilm, in May that it planned to honor him in a forthcoming book, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—The Visual Dictionary. The book was released by publisher DK to coincide with the release of the new film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In May, the fan relations team for Lucasfilm wrote a letter to Howell's family expressing condolences.
"Riley's courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us," wrote fan relations team member Lucas Seastrom. "We hope that you may rejoice in his memory, and we join you in honoring his life and example. As a small tribute, our Story Group has incorporated a reimagining of Riley's name as a character in the Star Wars galaxy. ... The Force will be with Riley, and all of you, always..." Riley Howell's mother, Natalie Henry-Howell, told the Charlotte Observer that this actually marks the second time her son has appeared in a Star Wars book: When he was a little boy, an uncle had a personalized book made for Riley that put him in the starring role of The Phantom Menace. "It was a big hit of a gift," she recalls, noting that the inclusion in the new book is far more significant.
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