An Army ROTC cadet sacrificed his life to save his fellow classmates during the UNC Charlotte shooting

Unsung Heroes

When a mass shooting erupted on the campus of University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Tuesday, Army ROTC cadet Riley Howell sprang into action.


Finding himself face to face with the armed gunman in his classroom, the 21-year-old Howell tackled and restrained the shooter until police could arrive.

The gunman, 22-year-old Trystan Terrell, left two dead and four injured on the Charlotte campus, including Howell.

"He was the kind of person who you knew would take care of you the moment you met him, and he always did," Howell's family said in a statement. "He radiated love and always will."

Law enforcement officials say that without Howell's heroic sacrifice, the death toll would likely have been higher.

"But for his work, the assailant may not have been disarmed," Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney told the New York Times of Howell. "Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives."

Lt. Col. Chunka Smith, head of UNC Charlotte's ROTC program, praised Howell's decisive action.

"I would tell you, he stood out," she told CBS News "As a soldier, we understand what it means to make the ultimate sacrifice."

At a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening, Howell's friend David Belnap arrived wearing a T-shirt with "Riley Howell is a hero" emblazoned on the back.

David Belnap, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, displays a t-shirt in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in support of Riley Howell, a classmate who was killed while confronting a gunman inside a classroom on Tuesday(Associated Press/Skip Foreman)

"It seems very much like something he would do," he told the Associated Press of Howell. "I want that to be his legacy, that he lost his life to protect those he cared about."

SEE ALSO: The Army Is Officially Honoring Three Slain JROTC Cadets For Their Heroism During The Florida Shooting

WATCH NEXT: The 3 ROTC Cadets Killed During The Parkland Shooting

Riley Howell (T.C. Roberson High School via New York Times)
(Courtesy of Jackie Melendrez)

Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Iron Mountain. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Iron Mountain is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.

Jackie Melendrez couldn't be prouder of her husband, her sons, and the fact that she works for the trucking company Iron Mountain. This regional router has been a Mountaineer since 2017, and says the support she receives as a military spouse and mother is unparalleled.

Read More Show Less
Photo: U.S. Army

Master Sgt. Larry Hawks, a retired engineer sergeant who served with 3rd Special Forces Group, is being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on Friday for "valorous actions" in Afghanistan in 2005.

Read More Show Less

The Iranians just blasted one of the US military's most sophisticated and expensive drones out of the sky as tensions in the Strait of Hormuz reach the boiling point.

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Lawrence Hurley)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 40-foot-tall (12 meters) cross-shaped war memorial standing on public land in Maryland does not constitute government endorsement of religion, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a decision that leaves unanswered questions about the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.

The justices were divided on many of the legal issues but the vote was 7-2 to overturn a lower court ruling that had declared the so-called Peace Cross in Bladensburg unconstitutional in a legal challenge mounted by the American Humanist Association, a group that advocates for secular governance. The concrete cross was erected in 1925 as a memorial to troops killed in World War One.

The ruling made it clear that a long-standing monument in the shape of a Christian cross on public land was permissible but the justices were divided over whether other types of religious displays and symbols on government property would be allowed. Those issues are likely to come before the court in future cases.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press/Facebook)

A relative of the man who opened fire outside downtown Dallas' federal building this week warned the FBI in 2016 that he shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun because he was depressed and suicidal, his mother said Thursday.

Brian Clyde's half-brother called the FBI about his concerns, their mother Nubia Brede Solis said. Clyde was in the Army at the time.

On Monday, Clyde opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle at the Earle Cabell Federal Building. He was fatally shot by federal law enforcement. No one else was seriously injured. His family believes Clyde wanted to be killed.

Read More Show Less