Remember the hero but not gunman

Let us hope the name of the man who shot two people to death and wounded two others at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte fades quickly from the public’s consciousness. If notoriety was part of his goal, it ought to be denied to him.

Riley Howell should be remembered.

When the gunman burst into his classroom on Tuesday, Howell, a 21-year-old student from Waynesville, North Carolina, did what those who knew him expected.

Howell leapt to his feet and charged the assailant. He knocked him down, stopping him for precious seconds during which a campus police officer got into the room and subdued the gunman.

But Howell was killed.

There is no doubt whatever that he saved the lives of others, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters.

That cannot be doubted. A pistol such as that wielded by the murderer can be fired quickly. The assailant had plenty of ammunition. He might even have killed the first police officer into the classroom, then slaughtered more students, had Howell not acted.

“It was absolutely no surprise,” Howell’s aunt, Morgan Moylan, told reporters. “In fact, I have four children who so look up to him. Every one of them said, ‘Of course, he was the hero — 100% of course he’d run toward the shooter.’ He was everybody’s protector. You felt safe when you were with Riley.”

By Thursday, one of his friends had produced a homemade T-shirt. “Riley Howell is a hero,” was lettered on the back. Let us hope similar shirts are mass-produced.

Riley Howell was a hero. His life should be celebrated. He deserves to be remembered.


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