UNCC alum, NFL player Larry Ogunjobi finds new hero in Riley Howell

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The news hit Larry Ogunjobi like many others.

It began with a series of messages on social media asking him if he’d heard what happened at UNC Charlotte, his alma mater.

He had not.

“It was kind of surreal for me,” Ogunjobi said. “It just put me in a really weird mood."

[SPECIAL SECTION: UNCC shooting coverage]

Ogunjobi is the first-ever NFL player drafted from UNC Charlotte and is currently a defensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns.

He told Channel 9 he’d just visited campus Friday and was still in shock imagining buildings and classrooms he’d frequented for years transformed into crime scenes.

>> We have continuous team coverage of the shooting on the campus of UNCC. WATCH Eyewitness News and return to this story for updates.

“I saw the people getting escorted with their hands up. The police officers running in and it’s just crazy because you never really expect things like that to happen,” he said. “It puts a lot of things into perspective.”

In the midst of tragedy, Ogunjobi said a hero emerged.

Riley Howell was one of two students killed during the shooting. Officials said he jumped on the shooter, risking his life to save others.

['I want that to be his legacy': UNCC student who tackled gunman hailed as hero]

“I want to make sure to honor his name,” said Ogunjobi. “He risked his life and gave his life to save a lot of people so he's a true hero, especially to me.”

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The UNCC alum also shared words of encouragement for his beloved 49ers community.

[Two young men tragically lost their lives at UNCC: Here's what we know about them]

“Continue to stay strong,” he said. “Continue to not be fearful of what might happen. This may be one of the saddest days in our university's history, but I know that there are brighter days ahead.”

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