Student who confronted North Carolina gunman to be buried with military honours

Riley Howell , a 21-year-old student, gave his life to save others by tackling a gunman who was shooting inside a university classroom.
PHOTO: Twitter/MilanHightower, AFP

The slain student hailed as a hero for tackling a gunman during last week's shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) will be buried on Sunday with full military honours.

Twenty-one-year-old Riley Howell was one of two students killed on Tuesday when a shooter opened fire with a handgun inside a classroom full of nearly 50 students. Four other students were injured.

The gunman, who authorities identified as former UNCC student Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, has been charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder.

"The North Carolina National Guard will conduct military funeral honours today for cadet Howell. This action is approved by the adjutant general under state orders," said Wells Greeley of Wells Funeral Homes in Waynesville, North Carolina.

Howell, an environmental studies student, was a cadet with the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. An online petition calling for him to receive a full honours military burial drew more than 33,000 signatures.

An obituary posted on the funeral home's website described Howell as adventurous, passionate about life and all living things. He loved "anything Star Wars" and would have lightsaber fights in the yard with his younger brother Teddy.

"Riley died the way he lived, putting others first. Our hope is that his example resonates with everyone," the obituary read. "We hope his example of loving, living large, being kind always and finding laughter in the little things will be remembered as Riley's gift to us all."

Howell will be buried after a memorial service at Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

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