There have been far too many school shootings over the years, each one a dreadful tragedy, however there have also been heroes like Riley Howell who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect others. These are the brave ones, who we should never forget who exemplify a selflessness and bravery we can all aspire to.
Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) and that is precisely what Riley did.
How did it happen that a young student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) would lose his life in his place of learning?
The tragedy unfolded when a gunman entered a packed classroom in the Kennedy building at UNCC on April 30, 2019. It was just before 6 pm in the evening when he opened fire.
“He didn’t speak a word, just ran in and started shooting,” a witness reported. “Immediately, people start diving away, people started rushing for the door.”
But not Riley, he ran towards the gunman to try and disarm him.
Riley was killed in the shooting along with Ellis Parlier of Midland and four poeple were wounded. University officials identified the injured victims as Rami Al-Ramadhan, 20, of Saihat, Saudi Arabia; Sean DeHart, 20, of Apex, North Carolina; Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte; and Drew Pescaro, 19, of Apex. The liberal studies class had about 100 students altogether but fortunately only 30 were present when the shooting began.
The Student Hero
According to Riley’s aunt Morgan Howell Moylan, he is the oldest of four siblings and transferred to UNCC from an Asheville technical school. He enjoyed working out, the outdoors, cooking and boattrips to their lake house. He was a “big teddy bear” who wanted to join the military, she said.
According to the CNN clip below, Riley Howell was shot point-blank as he tried to run towards the gunman to prevent him––– from hurting the other students in the classroom. Since he had nowhere else to run and hide, he did chose to run towards the gunman and was fatally shot.
What he did is a heroic thing, according to his aunt; who was not surprised by his brave act. “He was the hero, 100%, of course, he’d run toward the shooter. He was everybody’s protector. You felt safe when you were with Riley,” she said.
Indeed Riley Howell’s sacrifice saved many lives. We continue to pray for his family and the families of all affected, that God would comfort them in their grief and pain and bring healing and forgiveness to this community.
This post was compiled by Joyca Lorriene and Al Gibson
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