UNCC student who fought shooter ‘sacrificed his life,’ cousin says at UNC vigil

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — The cousin of one of the victims of the deadly UNC-Charlotte shooting spoke out Friday night during a vigil at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Not only how he was raised, just how he lived his life,” Sam Howell said of cousin Riley Howell, who helped stop the accused shooter during the incident that killed two people.

Riley Howell, a UNCC junior, wanted to help people, to protect them. 

It didn’t surprise his family that he charged the gunman during Tuesday’s school shooting, Sam Howell said.

“He just sacrificed his life and everything to save those around him whether he knew them or not. I can’t put to words how grateful and prideful I feel to be his cousin,” Sam Howell said.

Sam Howell did his best at Friday’s vigil.

The sophomore shared memories of his cousin’s love for food, sports and working out. He also spoke about his dedication to his family and longtime girlfriend.

“He had a loving heart. I mean that’s just, that’s the most important thing that I think people should know about Riley,” Sam Howell said.

Students, parents and neighbors gathered by the flagpole behind the Old Well. It’s at half staff to honor Riley Riley and Reed Parlier, the other student who was killed. Four others were wounded, including two people from Apex.  

“A threat to any university is a threat to us all and I stand here deeply saddened and disturbed by the events that unfolded Tuesday,” Ashton Martin, the UNC student body president said.

“Riley was a hero,” Davis Crook said.

Crook grew up with him. 

“There’s no better example of his character because that’s the type of man Riley was,” Crook said.

Riley’s funeral is planned for this weekend in his hometown of Waynesville. 

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