Decorated Vietnam vet presents Purple Heart and Bronze Star to family of slain UNC Charlotte shooting hero

Unsung Heroes

Hailed as a hero for knocking a shooter off his feet in a UNC Charlotte classroom, Riley Howell was posthumously awarded two of the military's highest honors in his hometown of Waynesville, North Carolina this week.

Howell, 21, and classmate Ellis "Reed" Parlier, 19, died when a gunman opened fire in their classroom in the Kennedy building on April 30.


Four students were injured: Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saihat, Saudia Arabia; Sean Dehart, 20, of Apex; Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte; and Drew Pescaro, 19, of Apex. The 22-year-old suspect, former student Trystan Andrew Terrell, remains jailed on murder and other charges.

Howell ''took the assailant off his feet," preventing injury to more students, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference that week, The Charlotte Observer previously reported. Howell was an Army ROTC cadet.

On Wednesday, Waynesville Police Chief William Hollingsed and Haywood County Sheriff Greg Christopher presented Howell's family with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star from Thomas "Stormy" Matteo.

Matteo is president of the Purple Heart Society who received six Purple Heart medals from action with the Marines in Vietnam.

(Waynesville Police Department)

The Purple Heart Medal is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Services wounded in action and posthumously to those killed in action. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded for "heroic or meritorious achievement of service," according the American War Library website.

Matteo spoke to Howell's parents and siblings on FaceTime, according to a Waynesville Police Department Facebook post.

He "commended Riley's actions as a true hero," according to the post. "We were truly honored to be part of this presentation."

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©2019 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: UNC Charlotte Shooting Hero Awarded Posthumous ROTC Medal Of Heroism

(Waynesville Police Department)
Photo: Lee County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

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