RILEY HOWELL: Loved ones host benefit concert, fitness challenge to honor slain UNCC student

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – It’s been two and a half months since the tragedy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Now, a North Carolina community is remembering one of the heroes in the attack.

Christian country singer Shellem Cline wrote a song for Riley Howell, the young man who sacrificed his life rushing a gunman at UNC Charlotte on April 30 to save others. 

[ALSO READ: Foundation honoring UNCC shooting hero donates money for grief counseling]

Our news affiliates WLOS were there when Cline debuted the new song Saturday night at a concert he started planning with Riley a year ago. 

“It just basically tells his story about how he was and is an American hero,” Cline said. 

Dozens of people came out to support his family and the foundation in his name, the Riley Howell Foundation. 


Family and friends of Riley Howell created the foundation to not only honor the heroic student who tackled the shooter at UNCC, but also to give back.

The event was held at a local RV park, where Riley Howell used to help the owner plant trees. 

“He just touched my heart when you meet him,” RV park owner Larry Elliott said. “He was so outgoing and incredible and one thing that I remember he says, ‘I got this don’t worry.'” 

Riley Howell’s family and friends said he was a super friend and remember him as a generous, easy-going guy with a true love for the outdoors. 

Another passion of Riley Howell’s was fitness. 

He and his girlfriend were members at Crossfit Asheville. Saturday, the owners hosted the “Riley21,” a special workout created in his honor with all his favorite lifts. 

Thirteen members of Riley Howell’s family joined hundreds of others for the strenuous workout. 

His father Thomas Howell said it was nice getting to know the people his son loved so much. 

“Riley would come home and say ‘I’m really enjoying crossfit, I met this guy who does so and so or the gym’s got this huge dog that I love,'” Thomas Howell said. 

The owners at Crossfit Asheville said Riley Howell died how he lived, putting others first. 

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