UNC Charlotte Shooting Shows Heroes Among US: Riley Howell and Cooper Creech

UNC Charlotte Shooting Shows Heroes Among US: Riley Howell and Cooper Creech

UNC Charlotte Shooting Shows Heroes Among US: Riley Howell and Cooper Creech

In case you haven’t heard, an unhinged, evil monster walked into a classroom full of students at University of North Carolina, Charlotte and began to murder innocent people. Kids scattered when the shots ran out, but one boy – a 21-year-old ROTC cadet at the school – rushed the malcontent and tackled him. His name was Riley Howell, and he died a hero while others hid.

Charlotte Strong! Wikimedia Commons

To be sure, I’m certainly not blaming these kids for hiding. It’s a horrifying situation to be sitting in class, listening to the professor one minute, and then realizing that brass is falling to the floor next to you, shots are ringing out, and your life could end at a moment’s notice. Your first thought is to save yourself, to avoid the hail of gunfire, and to survive.

But there are those special people among us whose instinct is to defend. They don’t think about the sacrifice they’re about to make. They don’t consider the consequences. They act in defense of others. They are the sheepdogs, and they know their purpose – whether instinctually or consciously. They know it.

Riley Howell was a sheepdog. When the gunman began murdering his classmates, Riley Howell took the fight to the monster, knocked him off his feet, allowing him to be captured, and he gave his life in the process. Riley was shot at point blank range.

Again, this is not a condemnation or criticism of any other student in that classroom whose instinct first and foremost was to survive. There is nothing wrong with using that survival instinct to preserve one’s life. Police recommend that those in an active shooter situation either run, hide, or take the fight to the assailant. As a mom, I’d like to think that my children would act to preserve their lives first and foremost, but as a veteran and the mother of two veterans, I know better.

Riley Howell was a hero.

According to CNN, no one who knew him was surprised at his act of sacrifice and bravery.

Howell grew up taking care of his three younger siblings on his family’s farm in Waynesville. He spent time working out with first responders and dreamed of serving in the military or firefighting.

In a statement, Howell’s family said he always stood up for what he believed and didn’t hesitate to help those in need.

“His faith was strong and he knew what he had to do when people needed him most,” the family said in a statement Wednesday. “He was always the guy you could count on and he delivered.”

“He put others before himself,” one of his sisters, Juliet Howell, told NBC. “He always has.”

A petition at WhiteHouse.gov urged President Trump to authorize a funeral with full military honors for Riley Howell. “Riley was an ROTC cadet and would have served his country. Instead, he died saving the lives of his classmates,” the petition read. “For his heroism, we ask the Riley be given a burial with full military honors.” Riley will be laid to rest today with said honors in his hometown in North Carolina.

Riley Howell wasn’t the only hero present at the Kennedy building that day. Cooper Creech – an Army medic with the National Guard – provided first aid to one of the victims, 20-year-old Saudi Arabian student Rami al-Ramadhan.

I am openly crying as I sit here writing this post. They are tears of joy, sorrow, pride and pain. These kids represent the best in all of us. They give me hope for the future. UNC Charlotte has a mandatory disarmament policy. North Carolina concealed carry permit holders must leave their firearms in their vehicles. Trained, law-abiding gun owners are forcibly disarmed on campus. They were left defenseless in the face of unspeakable evil Tuesday evening, and two heroes rose above all others to show us the best they had to offer.

RIP, Riley Howell, and thank you, Cooper Creech.


Featured photo: by nosheep; Pixabay license

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

  • GWB says:

    UNC Charlotte has a mandatory disarmament policy.
    UNCC killed those young people as much as the shooter did.
    North Carolina should pass a “Riley Howell Law” requiring all publicly owned properties to allow concealed carry in accordance with law. It should also repeal any restrictions on establishments that serve alcohol (there’s already a provision in place prohibiting actual drunkenness while carrying, I’m sure).

    Mr Creech’s actions are not unusual – though still very commendable. But, those trained as EMTs/medics/doctors/nurses often race toward the injured, heedless of imminent danger. Kudos to him, and to all who serve in that fashion.

    And, honors to Mr Howell. Your courage and selfless action are in keeping with the traditions of the United States military, and are a great credit to yourself, your ROTC unit, the Department of Defense, and this nation.
    (I’m very glad to see they quickly authorized full military honors.)

  • Bill Cook says:

    I don’t doubt for a minute that Riley Howell had already decided well in advance what he would do in case the unthinkable happened. When it did, he had already made up his mind and simply acted.

  • Hate_me says:

    Not a boy. He died a man. BZ, Cadet.

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