Riley Howell, the 21-year-old University of North Carolina at Charlotte student who tackled an active shooter as his school was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star posthumously.
Riley’s family received the medals. The Army ROTC cadet’s family attended a ceremony that was organized by the Waynesville Police Department to honor Howell who gave up his own life to protect other students.
The president of the Purple Heart Society, Thomas Matteo, personally told Howell’s family that he was a hero.
The Purple Heart normally awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are injured or killed in battle. The Bronze Star is given to those who have exhibited, “heroic or meritorious achievement or service.”
Kerr Putney, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief said, Howell “Did exactly what we train people to do. You’re either gonna run, 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. Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives. What he did was, he took the assailant off his feet, and then the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend him from there.”
Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, was the gunman who has been charged with murder and attempted murder.