Riley Howell, 21, Was Buried with Military Honors After Sacrificing His Life to Stop the UNCC School Shooter

Kareena Koirala
May 08, 2019
11:08 A.M.

Riley Howell, a University of North Carolina student who died after tackling a gunman in a campus shooting, was buried with military honors on May 5 in the presence of close friends and family.


According to authorities, Riley saved the life of others by charging at the shooter after he open fired with a pistol in the college premises.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Riley did his best to stop the gunman by pinning him down.

“[Howell] took the fight to the assailant. Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so,” Putney said. “He took the assailant off his feet, and the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend from there. Mr. Howell saved lives.”


The brave student was killed along with 19-year-old Reed Parlier while four others were injured during the mishap.

Riley’s “Celebration of Life” service was held in the Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska outside his hometown of Waynesville. His obituary revealed he was “an adventurous guy who loved the outdoors” and that he “died the way he lived, putting others first.”


A military member marched on stage as saluted a folded American flag as three shots fired outside during the funeral. The flag was later brought to Riley’s parents, Thomas and Natalie.

In order to help families who have been affected by acts of violence, his family announced that they were starting the Riley Howell Foundation. The foundation will first help Parlier’s family.

The compassionate lad was remembered by his girlfriend, Lauren, as a “nature lover with a heart of gold” during the memorial service. The couple met for the first time during high school sophomore year at a four-way intersection where she was waiting to be picked up for the day.

Reminiscing their meeting, Lauren said they hit it off instantly like they had known each other for a long time.

Riley did the right thing even when he knew it could cost him his life. May his departed soul rest in peace.

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