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Charlotte Area News

Police Say Student Helped Stop Shooter Before Being Shot

Riley Howell

Police are crediting one of the students who died in Tuesday's shooting at UNC Charlotte with saving lives by helping to stop the shooter. 

At a press conference Wednesday, Charlotte Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney singled out 21-year-old Riley Howell for his actions in the classroom, where he and another student were shot to death and four other students were wounded. Putney said Howell knocked the shooter off his feet. 

"He did exactly what we train people to do. You're either gonna run, you're gonna hide and shield, or you're gonna take the fight to the assailant. Having no place to run and hide, he did the last. But for his work, the assailant may not have been disarmed. Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. 

Howell, of Waynesville, was killed, along with 19-year-old Ellis Parlier of Midland.  UNC Charlotte police chief Jeff Baker also praised Howell's actions, as well as the quick response of his officers, including one who also helped take down the shooter. 

Police arrested a 22-year-old former UNC Charlotte student at the scene. He's now in Mecklenburg County Jail charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder. 

Among the other details that emerged from the briefing: The 22-year-old shooter had a handgun he purchased legally, and a large amount of ammunition.  Police said he had (QUOTE) "some familiarity" with that building and likely chose the location for the shooting. They would not answer a question about whether he had any relationship to the class or his victims. And they would not say why he was no longer a student.