Family of student killed in UNCC shooting reflects on his life one year after tragedy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reed Parlier should be wrapping up his junior year at UNC Charlotte.

Riley Howell should be graduating.

One year ago, their lives ended when a gunman opened fire inside their classroom.

Reed's parents, Brian and Julie, invited anchor Allison Latos to their home to reflect on his life and the many ways he is being honored.

The Parliers sat side by side among the flowers and stepping stones outside their Midland home in a special place full of memories and tributes to their only son.

“It feels like yesterday as cliché as that sounds,” Julie Parlier said.

Reed never made it home from his final day as a UNCC sophomore.

A gunman killed him, and Riley Howell and injured 4 other students, inside Kennedy Hall one year ago, on Thursday.

“I don’t know how you prepare or plan for a day like that,” Julie said.

Ellis "Reed" Parlier

Through the past year, they've tried to find a new routine, especially for reed's younger sister, Mallory, but sometimes the grief grips tight even in good times.

"It is difficult because you want to celebrate her and her accomplishments," said Julie. "She turned 18 in March, got accepted to Wingate University and is graduating. There are lots of things that have happened this year that have been great milestones for our family, but at the same time, there's always that void."

The Parliers, their close community and even complete strangers have found unique ways to honor Reed’s life.

A scholarship will help students pursue his passions in computers or gaming.

The Comic Con tournament in Texas held moments of silence for Reed in March.

A trail at Rob Wallace Park in Midland will soon bear his name and so will steps at Pine Lake Country Club.

“It’s all been unexpected and humbling,” Reed’s father, Brian said.

UNCC will also remember Reed and his classmates this week, though the university’s original plans for a concert have changed to a virtual ceremony because of coronavirus.

"It is kind of a blessing that we don't have to go and relive a lot of that, but in the same regard, a lot of people put in time and effort to honor Reed and Riley," said Brian.

The Parliers are grateful the campus and the city will not forget their son, a young man they call wise, kind and quiet.

But sadly, no ceremony or honor can truly heal their broken hearts.

"It has been amazing all of the support we've received but we'd give it all back in a heartbeat if we could," said Julie.

UNC Charlotte’s virtual remembrance program begins at 5:10 p.m. Thursday and there will be a luminary express of love for the Parlier family at Pine Lake Country Club at 8:30 p.m.