Watch CBS News

Hailed a hero, UNCC shooting victim Riley Howell remembered: "He stood out"

UNCC shooting victim Riley Howell "stood out"
Hailed a hero, UNCC shooting victim Riley Howell "stood out" 02:46

Authorities said if it weren't for the heroic student who gave his life to save others during the deadly shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, there may have been even more bloodshed. ROTC participant Riley Howell, 21, confronted Trystan Terrell and fought back when the suspect opened fire inside a classroom Tuesday, according to police. That gave officers time to capture the gunman.

Terrell is charged with killing Howell and another student, Ellis "Reed" Parlier. Four others were hurt. Authorities said they still don't know the motive behind this deadly classroom rampage. The suspect is expected to appear in court Thursday.

Lt. Col. Chunka Smith, who runs UNC Charlotte's ROTC program, said he's not surprised Howell gave his life for others.

"I would tell you, he stood out," Smith said.

"Do you feel a sense of pride in what he did?" CBS News correspondent Chip Reid asked.

"I do. Absolutely. As a soldier, we understand what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice," Smith said.

"I'm gonna miss that kid," said Kevin Westmoreland, father of Howell's longtime girlfriend. "It would make complete sense that he would turn and try to stop it from happening. He's the one that runs towards it instead of running away."

Students were in anthropology class when police said Terrell burst through the door with a legally purchased pistol and began shooting.

"He took the fight to the assailant," Charlotte-Mecklenberg police chief Kerr Putney said, adding, "He took the assailant off his feet. And then the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend him."

"We're going to be committed to a fact-finding mission that takes time. We're gonna seek justice," Putney added.

School officials said Terrell had withdrawn from classes at UNC Charlotte. Sources tell CBS affiliate WBTV he had gone to a shooting range to practice and was influenced by the Sandy Hook massacre. He allegedly had 10 magazines on him.

The university community is determined to focus on the victims and moving forward. Thousands of students packed into a campus arena for a vigil Wednesday night.

In a statement, Howell's parents said he radiated love and always will. People who knew the other victim, Parlier, described him as empathetic and caring. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.