Student killed in University of North Carolina-Charlotte shooting 'died a hero'

One of the two students who were killed in a shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Tuesday attempted to stop the gunman by jumping on him. 

Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville, North Carolina, was remembered on social media for trying to stop 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell from firing inside a classroom. 

"He died a hero," a Facebook post from Kim Barnes read on Wednesday. "He jumped on the shooter to try and stop him and was shot and killed in the process. He may not have stopped the shooter but he occupied him while others were able to get to safety and giving police time to get to the shooter."

The post was shared over 151,000 times and was flooded with condolences from other Facebook users. 

"RIP, Riley Howell," one person wrote. "You ARE a hero. We will never know how many lives you saved but everyone should be very thankful that you were there to take a stand against the violence and gave your life for that cause."

Howell majored in environmental science and enrolled at UNC-Charlotte in the fall of 2018. He had previously studied at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, according to WBTV

"He always was able to put others before himself and never hesitated to help anyone who needed it," his family said in a statement on Wednesday. "He was friends with anyone and everyone — a big, muscular guy with a huge heart."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney confirmed Howell's heroic actions at a press conference Wednesday.

"You’re either going to run, you’re going to hide and shield, or you’re going to take the fight to the assailant," Putney said. "Having no place to run and hide, he did the last.” 

State legislators also praised the college student for preventing the shooter from claiming more victims. 

"Riley Howell will be remembered for his courage, for the life he lived, and for the lives he saved," state assembly member Brian Turner said on Facebook. "I ask you to join me in keeping Riley's family in your prayers."

Ellis Parler, 19, was also killed in Tuesday's shooting. Four other students were wounded but were expected to recover. 

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