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Student who sacrificed himself to stop UNC Charlotte gunman to be buried with military honors

'Mr. Howell saved lives'

Students lay candles and flowers at the steps of Kennedy Hall to honor the victims of a shooting the day earlier at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina on May 1, 2019. (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)

The student who rushed a gunman at the University of North Carolina Charlotte earlier this week will be buried with full military honors for his act of sacrificial heroism, according to The Hill.

Riley Howell, 21, died after rushing to take down gunman Trystan Terrell, who shot several students on campus Tuesday, killing two. Witnesses say Howell's charge succeeded in knocking Terrell down and helping police detain him.

"Absolutely, Mr. Howell saved lives," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney.

Putney said Howell did what police recommend people do in active shooter situations, saying "you're either going to run, you're going to hide and shield, or you're going to take the fight to the assailant. Having no place to run or hide, he did the last."

"He took the fight to the assailant," Putney said. "Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so."

Howell was in ROTC, so a petition on the White House website asked for him to be given a military burial, since he planned go to on to serve after college.

"[Riley] was one of two students killed and four wounded, but there may have been many more victims had Riley not rushed the gunman and tackled him," the petition read. "Riley was an ROTC cadet and would have served his country. Instead, he died saving the lives of his classmates. For his heroism, we ask that Riley be given a burial with full military honors."

As of Friday night, more than 27,000 people had signed the petition. Petitions need 100,000 signatures to get a response from the White House, but the funeral home has already confirmed that Howell will be buried with honors.

Although obviously devastated at the loss of her son, Howell's mother, Natalie Henry-Howell, said the family is "beyond proud of what he was able to do."

"While kids were running one way, our son turned and ran toward the shooter," she said.

One last thing…
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