Riley Howell, the ‘hero’ UNCC student who died after approach of the shooter, deserves a Purple Heart, Bronze Star

connectVideoUNCC student who tackled gunman, saved lives is honored at vigil

The 21-year-old Riley Howell is remembered as a hero by the University of North Carolina and the Charlotte community; Dan Springer reports from the scene.

The University of North Carolina-Charlotte student who tackled a gunman in the last month has posthumously awarded with two of the military with the highest honor.

Riley Howell, a 21-year-old Army ROTC cadet, and earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his actions April 30 when a gunman opened fire in his classroom. Howell and the 19-year-old Ellis Parlier were killed in the attack.

Riley Howell, 21, was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, after he tackled a gunman at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in April.
(Matthew Westmoreland via AP/Waynesville Police)

Howell’s family were presented with the honour by the Waynesville Police Department. Thomas Matteo, the Purple Heart Society, personally spoke to Howell’s family to tell them that he believed their son was a hero.


The Purple Heart is awarded to those who are in the U.S. military who are injured or killed in the fight. A Bronze Star is given to those who exhibit, for ” heroic or meritorious achievement or service.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney said after the shooting that Howell “did exactly what we train people to do.”

Howell was fatally shot in April, when a gunman opened fire at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, according to police.
(Yearbook photo)

“You’re gonna run, hide and shield, or you are going to fight with the opponent,” the head of the police said. “With no place to run and hide, he did the last.”

It would be an “understatement” to say Howell tackled the shooter, but it “would be,” according to Putney. He said that if Howell is not the approach of the shooter, the attacker “would not be disarmed.”


“Unfortunately, he has given his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives,” Putney said of Howell. “What he did was, he took the opponent off his feet, and then the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend him.”

Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, was arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder and other crimes in connection with the attack, which, in addition to killing two, wounded four students.

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