"Riley died the way he lived, putting others first."

By Meghan Overdeep
May 06, 2019
Riley Howell Funeral
Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Riley Howell, the heroic UNCC student who stopped a shooting rampage at the college last week by charging the gunman and knocking him off his feet, was laid to rest Sunday with full military honors.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said that Howell was the "first and foremost hero" in bringing the shooting to an end. Authorities believe that the 21-year-old ROTC cadet's selfless decision saved the lives of countless other students. Howell was killed, along with 19-year-old Reed Parlier of Midland, North Carolina.

"Riley died the way he lived, putting others first," his obituary reads. "Our hope is that his example resonates with everyone. We hope others will, if ever the need arises, answer the call to be selfless and do the right thing without hesitation."

CNN reports that Howell's Celebration of Life service took place at the Stuart Auditorium in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, just outside his hometown of Waynesville. Friends and family recalled a kind, humble young man who loved the outdoors and always put others first. The service was followed by a burial with full military honors, including an honor guard.

"Maybe it was God that moved the levers, that put Riley in that classroom on that day, at the exact time for the purpose of saving others," said Kevin Westmoreland, the father of Howell's girlfriend, Lauren.

"It was not out of character for him," he continued, "and maybe someone in that room is here for a greater purpose, and it was Riley's destiny to sacrifice himself for them."

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The Howell family also announced their plan to start the Riley Howell Foundation, which would aim to help families who have been affected by "senseless acts of violence." The first family will reportedly be Parlier's.

Rest in peace, Riley.