CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The family of UNC Charlotte shooting victim Riley Howell was presented a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in Howell’s honor, thanks to a Vietnam veteran.
Howell, 21, died after jumping on a gunman officials say opened fire on UNCC’s campus last month. Howell is remembered as a “hero” for his brave actions that officials say likely saved lives. Ellis “Reed” Parlier, 19, also lost his life in the shooting. Four other students were injured in the shooting.
Veteran and president of the Purple Heart Society, “Stormy” Matteo, spoke with Howell’s family and commended Riley’s actions as “a true hero,” Waynesville police say.
Matteo is the recipient of six Purple Heart medals that were awarded during his time with the marines in Vietnam.
The Purple Heart, awarded by Matteo, was given to Howell’s family at the Waynesville Police Department.
“During a 'FaceTime’ call at the Police Department, Mr. Matteo spoke to the parents and siblings of Riley and commended Riley’s actions as a true hero,” Waynesville police said.
“Riley loved the outdoors, and Star Wars, and pizza; he played soccer and ran cross country in high school and was described by those close to him as upbeat and optimistic, and always with a smile on his face,” a message from UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois read. “Riley’s family describes him as always putting others ahead of himself, and nothing exemplifies that more than his final, heroic actions in defense of his fellow students. We will not forget Riley.”