A new petition calls for the White House to honor one of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte shooting victims with a burial with full military honors to salute his heroic actions during the deadly rampage.
Riley Howell, 21, died in his classroom on Tuesday after charging and tackling the alleged gunman, identified as 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell.
"His sacrifice saved lives," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said in a news conference Wednesday. "What he did was he took the assailant off his feet, and then the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend him from there."
Putney described Howell as "the first and foremost hero as far as [he's] concerned" regarding the shooting, which also killed 19-year-old Ellis Parlier.
A petition at WhiteHouse.gov requests that Howell, an ROTC cadet, be given a burial with full military honors.
“There may have been many more victims had Riley not rushed the gunman and tackled him,” the petition reads. “Riley was an ROTC cadet and would have served his country. Instead, he died saving the lives of his classmates.”
As of Friday afternoon, the petition has received more than 18,000 signatures. If it crosses the 100,000 threshold by May 31, the White House will provide an official response.
Howell’s mother told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday she was "beyond proud" of her son's heroic actions.
"While kids were running one way, our son turned and ran towards the shooter," Natalie Henry-Howell said. "If he was in the room when something like that was happening, and he had turned away, he wouldn't have been able to live with himself."