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UNC Charlotte shooting victim is grandson of Edneyville woman

One of two UNC Charlotte students killed in the shooting is a graduate of T.C. Roberson High and the grandson of an Edneyville woman.

Authorities on Wednesday identified Riley Howell, 21, as one of the shooting victims. He is the son of Natalie Henry Howell, the youngest daughter of Mary Hill Henry, a retired Henderson County teacher who lives in Edneyville. Family and friends  mourned the loss of Howell on Wednesday.
"From what we have heard, he died a hero," one Facebook user said. "According to news reports, he threw himself onto the gunman to keep others from being hurt."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney later confirmed that. Howell “took the assailant off his feet” before campus police officers arrived, Putney said at a press briefing. Howell “did exactly what we train people to do — you’re going to run, you’re going to hide and shield, or you’re going to face the assailant,” the chief said. “He did the latter (and) his sacrifice saved lives.”

 

In a Twitter message, state Rep. Brian Turner of Asheville also expressed gratitude for Howell's act of courage.

"Part of the alert that the school sent out yesterday said 'Run, Hide, Fight.' Early reports say Riley chose to fight and was fatally shot while attempting to physically confront and stop the shooter," Turner said. "This selfless act would have delayed the shooter giving police more time to respond and prevented further deaths. ... Riley Howell will be remembered for his courage, for the life he lived, and for the lives he saved. I ask you to join me in keeping Riley's family in your prayers."

A 2016 graduate of Roberson, Howell played varsity soccer and ran cross-country through high school. Officials also confirmed Howell previously attended Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College before transferring to UNCC last fall.

"He was killed down there with that wild shooter," Bub Hyder, Hill's partner said, said Wednesday. "I've seen two other people today that had grandkids or kids in that class (at UNC Charlotte)."

Henderson County School Board member Rick Wood, who was speaking at a rally for education at the Historic Courthouse  Wednesday evening, noted Howell's connection to Henderson County and his grandmother, a longtime teacher.

Riley's mother works at Valley Springs Middle School in Buncombe County, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

Lucas Tate, 20, one of Howell's best friends, described Howell as "one of the most loving and caring people I have ever met."

"He had an amazing soul," Tate told the Citizen-Times. "He always brought light into the room and he just cared about people more than himself. He was just that kind of person."

The suspected shooter, Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, was captured before he left the classroom. He is charged with two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, possessing and firing a weapon on educational property, and assault with a deadly weapon.