HERO: Victim in UNC Charlotte Mass Shooting Sacrificed His Life, Had Considered Military Service

The Kennedy building at UNC Charlotte, the scene of Tuesday's deadly mass shooting. Screen grab via WXII.
The Kennedy bldg - UNC Charlotte
The Kennedy building at UNC Charlotte, the scene of Tuesday’s deadly mass shooting. Screen grab via WXII.

As I wrote this morning, more details are emerging about the 22-year-old suspect in Tuesday’s deadly mass shooting at UNC Charlotte.


This afternoon and evening, we also learned more information about the people who should be remembered the most in this horrific tragedy: The victims.

Charlotte’s WBTV News reports:

Two people killed in a shooting on UNC Charlotte’s campus Tuesday evening were identified by university officials Wednesday as 21-year-old Riley C. Howell of Waynesville, NC and 19-year-old Ellis R. Parlier of Midland, NC.

Officials identified the four injured when 22-year-old suspect Trystan Terrell opened fire as 20-year-old Rami Alramadhan of Saudi Arabia, 20-year-old Sean Dehart of Apex, NC, 23-year-old Emily Houpt of Charlotte, and 19-year-old Drew Pescaro of Apex, NC.

In a press conference this afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney noted that Howell sacrificed his life in a struggle with the gunman:

Those who truly knew Riley Howell will all say the same thing.

“He always was able to put others before himself and never hesitated to help anyone who needed it.”

So when a gunman walked into his classroom at UNC Charlotte late Tuesday evening and opened fire, officials said Riley sacrificed himself to save his peers.


Chief Putney said Riley’s sacrifice saved lives. Blocked inside a classroom, Putney said Riley had no option to run or hide, so he fought.

“He took the fight to the assailant. Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so,” Putney said about Riley. “He took the assailant off his feet, and the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend from there.”


Howell’s lecturer tweeted this out early this morning:

Howell’s family issued a statement today honoring his memory. It read, in part:

At 21 years old, Riley Howell was a big kid, who loved life, his family, and his soul mate Lauren. He was everyone’s protector, always standing up for what he believed in and lending a strong back to those in need.


Riley made it easy to be his friend. His laid back demeanor belied his innate desire to make a meaningful impact on your life. He made you feel special, he asked all the right questions, and always seemed available when you needed him most.

Riley considered a career in the military or firefighting before enrolling in college. He relished the big challenges, whether it be jumping from the highest cliff into the water below or power lifting competitions at the gym. Once committed to something- he never gave up, never gave in, and gave everything he had- always.

Here are photos of Riley:


The family of Ellis Parlier also issued a statement that included information about a prayer vigil held earlier today:

Until further information is available we request that you respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.

The family is still in shock and grieving over their loss. At this point, no one in the family is in a position to make a statement or answer any questions related to this tragedy.


We will provide a more detailed statement once we have more information and will include additional pictures.

Please ask the community to keep all the victims and families in their prayers.

Here’s a photo of Ellis Parlier:

Remember their names. Remember their faces.


Graduation ceremonies at UNC Charlotte are set to start on May 9th. Per the university, final exams have been cancelled through Sunday.

Tuesday was the last day of classes.

Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–


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