CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities said two students were killed and four others were hurt after a gunman opened fire on the campus of UNC Charlotte Tuesday.
Officials have confirmed the victims who did not survive the shooting were Ellis “Reed” Parlier, 19, and Riley Howell, 21.
The four injured students were identified by UNCC Chancellor Philip L. Dubois as Drew Pescaro, 19, Sean Dehart, 20, Emily Houpt, 23, and Rami Alramadhan, 20. Officials said three of the victims remain in the hospital.
Police officials say 21-year-old Riley Howell jumped on the gunman during the shooting, likely saving other classmates' lives.
Howell was a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville with a home address in Waynesville.
“Early reports say Riley chose to fight and was fatally shot while attempting to physically confront and stop the shooter. This selfless act would have delayed the shooter giving police more time to respond and prevented further deaths,” Buncombe County Rep. Brian Turner said in a Facebook post. “Riley Howell will be remembered for his courage, for the life he lived, and for the lives he saved.”
That Riley chose to act in such a way didn't surprise his good friend, Fletcher Himan.
"He was the most selfless you would ever meet," he told Channel 9's Dave Faherty. "He would put his friends' needs over his own needs and put his family needs over his own needs and do whatever it takes.”
Himan said the two both loved the outdoors -- especially exploring western North Carolina together.
Howell's family released a statement just after noon on Wednesday, which said:
"Riley was truly a one of a kind guy. He loved all things outdoors, adventure, and especially family. He loved to work outside and when he worked, he did it with his hands and his heart. He always was able to put others before himself and never hesitated to help anyone who needed it.
"He was friends with anyone and everyone -- a big, muscular guy with a huge heart. He loved Star Wars, birds, cars, snowboarding, going to the lake, Kentucky Hot Browns cooking from scratch with cast iron while listening to the Feel Good Classic Soul playlist, and his Lauren. He could also put away a pizza.
"He was the kind of person who you knew would take care of you the moment you met him, and he always did.
"He radiated love and always will. As a friend said, 'Beautiful souls like Riley are always with us in the way they made life more beautiful.'"
T.C. Roberson High School brought in grief counselors for students and staff on Wednesday. The school honored Howell Wednesday morning during a moment of silence.
Eyewitness News reporter Ken Lemon spoke with UNC Charlotte Army ROTC head Lt. Col. Chunka Smith on Wednesday. He praised Howell's bravery and sacrifice in his decision to rush the gunman.
"That says a lot about the men and women enrolled in our school," Smith said.
Union County Public Schools confirmed 19-year-old Ellis “Reed” Parlier graduated from Central Academy of Technology & Arts in Monroe in 2017. Police say he was the first of two victims in Tuesday's mass shooting.
Superintendent Andrew G. Houlihan tweeted out a statement expressing his condolences for Parlier's family.
A family spokesperson released a statement saying, "The family is still in shock and grieving over their loss."
More than a dozen family friends gathered in Matthews on Wednesday for a small prayer service for Parlier.
Pastor Luke Maybry of Matthews Presbyterian Church said he delivered a message of hope to those that gathered, but also shared his frustration over the number of mass shootings in this country.
“I’ve preached on every school shooting that we have and I’m tired of preaching on school shootings,” he said. “Somehow or another, we as a community have to come together to stop this. We can’t resign ourselves to it and we can’t give in to despair.”
Parlier’s funeral arrangements have not been announced yet.
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