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Riley Howell was named as one of the two victims who died in a terrifying mass shooting that broke out on the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus.
The shooting – allegedly by a disgruntled former History student – sent students running from campus, hiding behind barricaded classroom doors, and sharing photos and videos on social media. When the dust settled two people lay dead at the scene and another four were injured; police said three of the wounded suffered life-threatening wounds and the fourth did not.
UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois said during an appearance on WBT Radio that the victims killed in the shooting have been identified as Ellis Parlier, 19, of Midland, North Carolina, and Howell, 21, of Waynesville, North Carolina. Drew Pascaro, 19, of Apex, North Carolina; Sean Dehart, 20, of Apex, North Carolina; Rami Almratin, 20, of Saudi Arabia; and Emily Haupt, 23, of Charlotte, have been identified by Dubois as the injured victims.
The gunman did not know the victims, police said.
Riley Howell Has Been Called a Hero After Witnesses Said He Jumped on the Gunman to Save Others
Riley Howell is being hailed as a hero. Sources told WSOC-TV that Howell jumped on the gunman in the classroom to save others.
North Carolina State Rep. Brian Turner wrote on Facebook, “I learned this morning that T.C. Roberson High School alum Riley Howell was among the victims of the deadly shooting yesterday at UNC Charlotte. 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. This selfless act would have delayed the shooter giving police more time to respond and prevented further deaths.”
Turner added, “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 friend of Howell’s longtime girlfriend had asked for help Tuesday night in a tweet that spread across social media, but sadly, officials confirmed Wednesday morning that Howell was one of two students killed in the shooting.
Riley Howell Was a Graduate of T.C. Roberson High School
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Riley Howell graduated from T.C. Roberson High School. He is from Waynesville, North Carolina.
Howell and his girlfriend met in high school and had been dating for five years. They planned to marry, friends told WLOS-TV.
Howell’s mother is a teacher near his hometown and the T.C. Roberson community has been mourning the loss on Facebook. “Just got word that Riley Howell and graduate of TC. Was killed in the UNC shooting yesterday. His mother is still teaching at Valley Springs. Let’s keep this family in our prayers,” a fellow graduate of the high school wrote on Facebook.
Howell was on the cross country and soccer teams at T.C. Roberson, according to the school’s website. He graduated from the high school in 2016.
Howell’s Cross Country Coach Says He Always ‘Had a Smile on His Face’
Riley Howell’s cross country coach at T.C. Roberson High School, Andrew Devine, told the Asheville Citizen-Times he always had, “a smile on his face and was upbeat and optimistic.”
His soccer coach, Josh Martin, told the newspaper he spent Wednesday morning “crying his eyes out.” The school observed a moment of silence for Howell and flags were lowered to half-staff in his honor.
“You can’t really put into words what a good human being he was,” Martin told the Citizen-Times. “There aren’t words to describe how we’re all feeling. This is tragic.”
Howell’s friend, Lucas Tate, told the Citizen-Times, that he “was one of the most loving and caring people I have ever met. He had an amazing soul. He always brought light into the room and he just cared about people more than himself. He was just that kind of person.”
The Chancellor Called the Shooting ‘the Saddest Day in UNC Charlotte’s History’
The chancellor released a statement that declared “this is the saddest day in UNC Charlotte’s history. Earlier this evening, the unthinkable happened on our campus.”
The chancellor wrote that “an individual opened fire in a UNC Charlotte classroom, cutting short the lives of two members of our community and seriously injuring four others.”
Families of the deceased were being notified and university staff were with those who are injured, the chancellor wrote.
“The entire UNC Charlotte community shares the shock and grief of this senseless, devastating act. This was an attack on all of Niner Nation,” he wrote.
He added, “The days ahead will be some of the most challenging we have ever encountered. All I can say for certain is that we will get through them together.”
Police wrote that detectives were conducting a homicide investigation at the campus after the call for help came in at 5:42 p.m. and police responded “to an assault with a deadly weapon call for service involving an active shooter on South Library Lane in the Kennedy Building.”
Officers “located multiple victims with gunshot wounds.” Three victims were taken to Atrium Health Carolina’s Medical Center. One victim was transported by a UNCC police sergeant to Atrium Health University City and then by a medic to Atrium. Two additional victims were pronounced deceased on the scene by a media, the statement read.
Photos and videos also circulated of the accused shooter, Trystan Terrell. “I shouldn’t have to check up on my friends at #UNCC to see if they fell victim to a school shooter, this whole situation is so f*cked up! Sending a lot of electronic hugs over to Charlotte right now, plz stay safe,” wrote another woman on Twitter.
A very disturbing video showed the suspect grinning.
“My sister is a professor at UNCC and could have easily been a victim in today’s shooting. I’m praising God for her safety (thankfully she was off campus at the time), but you better believe I’m following up my thoughts and prayers with action for stronger gun control,” wrote an upset woman on Twitter.
Videos showed students running. Other videos showed students walking with their hands up down a sidewalk on the UNCC campus. The shooting was in the class of Adam Johnson, who wrote on Twitter, “I’m not sure if I want to share anything but to clarify any rumors. Yes, there was a shooting in my class today. It was during team presentations in LBST2213 which is framed as #Anthropology and #Philosophy of #Science. My students are so special to me and I am devastated.” He said he won’t share details or talk to the news media.
Some people shared the images and demanded action.
In a news conference, the UNCC police chief, Jeff Baker, praised the heroism of several police officers who rushed to the scene and were able to take the shooter into custody. “He never had time to get out of the room,” said the chief, adding that the gunman was “armed with a pistol.”
The 911 caller had stated that several students were shot, according to Baker, who added that the suspect was “not somebody on our radar.”
“⚠️Scene secure. One in custody. No reason to believe anyone else involved,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police tweeted after Trystan Andrew Terrell was arrested in the mass shooting. Terrell is a former history student at the university.
Students took to social media to share their emotions.
“2 people won’t go home tonight after studying all day. they won’t take their finals after a semester of hard work. they won’t return your texts or calls. they won’t have a future because a senseless monster took that from them. Something has to change. #UNCC,” wrote one student on Twitter.
Police were quickly on campus.
“CMPD and UNCC going room by room on campus to identify any students, faculty or others who may be sheltering in place,” the police said.
Still on lockdown. People reaching out to their loved ones. Never thought I’d have to do the same. #uncc
People started running into the hallways, screaming shooter, one student told CBS17.
A police officer was giving students hugs.View image on Twitter
Students put a table in front of the door and turned the lights out, he said. Another student described being barricaded in a room until students heard a police officer ask if anyone else was in there.
Students wrote on Twitter that the gunman opened fire during a presentation.
Tristan Field wrote on Twitter, “The shooter at UNCC didn’t say anything. He just started shooting during our final presentations and we all ran out. I’m praying for everyone that got hit and UNC Charlotte as a whole. #CharlotteStrong.”
He added, “Why would anyone do this. We were just doing presentations and someone started shooting up the room. We didn’t do anything but our work. Stay safe UNCC.”
A Communications Student & Fraternity Brother Was Wounded in the Mass Shooting
The first victim’s name to be released was Drew Pescaro, who survived the shooting. Alpha Tau Omega fraternity “says a brother was injured in the shooting,” reported Joe Bruno of WSOC9. He shared a statement from the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
It was later reported that he was released from the hospital.View image on Twitter
It read, “Friends and Family, We are saddened to say that we can confirm that Brother Drew Pescaro of the Lambda Delta Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega has been injured in relation to the active shooter situation that unfolded earlier today at UNC Charlotte’s main campus. He is currently under medical supervision at CMC and we will advise further updates as they come.”
“We support the students and personnel at UNC-Charlotte affected by today’s tragic shooting. ATO brother Drew Pescaro was shot and is currently hospitalized in stable condition. We are keeping Drew, the chapter and the campus in our prayers,” the fraternity wrote on Facebook.
A further update on the condition of Drew Pescaro was not yet released.
Pescaro’s Facebook page says he’s a communication student at UNC. His page also says, “Video Assistant at UNC-Charlotte 49ers football. Studies Organizational communication at UNC Charlotte. Went to Middle Creek. Lives in Apex, North Carolina. From Rutland, Massachusetts.
“Very chaotic scene, everyone terrified, classrooms are locked, students are inside,” wrote a witness who live-tweeted the shooting.
He said that a wounded student was from Saudi Arabia but added: “I have to tell you it has nothing to do with Muslim or immigrants, it was a random shooting like many other school shootings.” The witness added that the shooter was stopped only after he ran out of bullets.
A photo circulated on Twitter purportedly showing that student’s bloody shirt.
This account has not been confirmed by authorities, nor has the Saudi Arabian student been named.
Police revealed that the first 911 calls came in at 4:40 p.m. “reporting a suspect was armed with a pistol and had shot several students,” ABC News reported.