UNCC hero Riley Howell to receive Congressional Medal of Honor

UNCC hero Riley Howell to receive Congressional Medal of Honor
Riley Howell, 21 of Waynesville, NC, was in the classroom when a 22-year-old shooter opened fire at UNC Charlotte. Howell jumped on the shooter in an attempt to stop him, according to police. (Source: Matthew Westmoreland)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Riley Howell, who was killed while trying to stop a gunman who opened fire in a University of North Carolina - Charlotte classroom, is now receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Citizen Honors Award.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced the 2020 honorees on Wednesday. Howell, of Waynesville, N.C., is one of six people in four categories to receive the award.

Howell is being given the Single Act of Heroism Award. The group says he was “selected for his courageous act when he shielded students from a gunman during an incident at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. Riley Howell did not survive the attack, but he is attributed with saving the lives of many students.”

Howell, along with fellow student Reed Parlier of Midland, NC, was killed during the May 2019 attack. Howell jumped on the shooter in an attempt to stop him. Police say his actions delayed the shooter and gave officers more time to respond and fellow students a chance to escape. The shooter was arrested at the scene.

Howell, who was also a ROTC Cadet, was put to rest with full military honors. Friends, family, strangers and even politicians all spoke out about the 21-year-old’s heroic and selfless acts.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Howell “did exactly what we train people to do: 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 and hide, he did the last.”

“His sacrifice saved lives,” Putney added.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society still shares that sentiment a year later, stating that Howell “exemplifies the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism.”

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