By Thomas Holmes
Late in the afternoon on Tuesday April 30, University of North Carolina Charlotte experienced a deadly shooting, killing two students; Ellis Parlier and Riley Howell, and injuring four more; Drew Pescaro, Sean DeHart, Rami Alramadhan, and Emily Houpt. Howell, 21, is a student who saved lives by charging the shooter in order to pin him down until police arrived. Howell was shot point-blank and died acting as a hero, according to Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
At 5:30 p.m., on the last day of classes before finals, around thirty students gathered in Kennedy Hall to hear final presentations from different groups of students. Miranda Finch, a sophomore, along with the rest of her group, sat at a round table waiting to present in front of the class. As Finch and others crouched behind cover, Howell ran towards the gunman and knocked him off of his feet.
Among the panic and confusion in the wake of this horrific attack, everyone agrees that Howell’s acts were heroic; the question on why he needed to act in the first place, is still left unanswered.
Friends and family of Howell gave testimonies to his bravery in everyday life that matched what his classmates saw on Tuesday.
“He did such a heroic thing,” said Howell’s aunt on one CNN report. “He was everybody’s protector. You felt safe when you were with Riley.”
Howell’s girlfriend said that she was not surprised by his action on the day of the shooting; she suggested that his actions were completely in character.
“He is my hero,” said his girlfriend who was overwhelmed with sorrow. “But he is just my angel now, as well.”
Students from UNCC gathered for a vigil on Wednesday evening, the night after the attack, to commemorate the lives of the students who were killed in the attack. Around 7,500 out of the 24,000 students enrolled at UNCC were in attendance. State officials including Gov. Roy Cooper and others were also present.
What would cause a 22 year old to commit one of the most egregious acts one can think of? Why does the UNCC police chief have to report about “the most tragic situation that can occur on a campus?” The randomness of the attack is what has cause so much fear in so many students both in Charlotte, but also nationwide. A 22 year old murderer with no apparent motive is terrifying for any person to think about, let alone the thought of having one their classroom.
This event, along with many others, will continue the conversation about young people’s safety in academic institutions across the country.
Editor’s note: The Catholic University student body mourns the loss of two young students as the community reflects on this recent tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those affected by this shooting.