Honoring the Heroes at UNCC

Trigger warning: some of the topics discussed in this article may be troubling to some readers. Please check out one of our other articles if this article has the potential to impact your mental health.

On April 30, six students woke up and went to class expecting to present their final projects. It was a particularly stressful day, as it was the last day of class before finals began. Some expected to present and go home to study for their upcoming final exams. Some expected to graduate within the next two weeks. Some expected to see their parents again for the summer.

Seven minutes into the first presentation, a former classmate started indiscriminately shooting through the glass walls.

I’m not going to say the shooter’s name because it does not matter. He does not matter. Any publicity he receives gives him more power.

I’m instead going to list the victims. They matter. Moreover, they deserved better.



Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville, NC

Ellis Parlier, 19, of Midland, NC



Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saihat, Saudi Arabia

Sean Dehart, 20, of Apex, NC

Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte, NC

Drew Pescaro, 19, of Apex, NC


It’s easy to get lost in the anger: anger toward the shooter, anger toward our country’s relaxed gun policy, anger toward the loss of young lives. However, before we get angry, the victims deserve a moment of peace. Therefore, instead of politicizing the event, I’m going to give them their peace and highlight the heroes.

Riley Howell tackled the shooter, knocking him off his feet and giving his peers and instructor, Adam Johnson, more time to escape. He died in the process, but his sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. In a statement, his family said, “He was the kind of person who you knew would take care of you the moment you met him, and he always did. He radiated love and always will.”

Adam Johnson led a group of his students to safety during the attack. Once they escaped the classroom, he led them to the anthropology department building, where they settled in the department chair’s office. Johnson then spent the next several minutes comforting the students while feeding the chair information to tell the police until they arrived.

There are undoubtedly more people to acknowledge, like the police that ran into the building while students were running the opposite way and the unnamed student that treated a victim for their injury and shock before the EMS showed up.  

There will be time for anger later. Right now, the Her Campus staff sends our love and support to our sister campus while they attempt to heal.

If you would like to read the instructor’s account of the event or his opinion about why mass shootings happen, his blog post is here.