A hero returns: Body of Riley Howell brought to hometown; funeral arrangements announced

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WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A town mouring the loss of one of thier own in the UNC Charlotte shooting welcomed him home today. 

The body of Riley Howell, 21, was brought back to his hometown of Waynesville on Thursday amid a police-escorted procession.

A nurse practitioner who came to see the procession for Howell, who was one of two UNC-Charlotte students gunned down in a campus shooting Tuesday, remembers the day he was born.

“21 years ago and I remember the details of that birth,” said Elizabeth Corbin.

She had no idea that day when she helped deliver a baby that he would grow up to save lives.

“What you may not hear is the first and foremost hero, and his name is Riley Howell,” said CMPD Chief Kerr Putney at a news conference earlier this week.

Riley Howell gave his life to save others. He tackled a gunman when he stormed into a classroom Tuesday on UNC-Charlotte’s campus.

Howell and his classmate, Reed Parlier of Midland, were killed. Four other students were injured in the gunfire.

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“Honor this family and this young man who gave so much,” said Corbin.

A procession of emergency vehicles guided Howell home down I-85 in Charlotte Thursday to Waynesville.

Mourners lined the streets of the small mountain town comforting one another.

“I had the privilege of being there the day he was born.”

Corbin is a nurse practitioner. She’ll never forget her interaction with Howell’s family in the hospital.

“When yesterday I heard this and heard the name and then it came to be that this indeed was the family, it didn’t shock me that this young man came from that family because Natalie and Thomas are just that kind of parents.”

The kind of parents who raised a hero.

“Tight family, very loving, just top notch people.”

They’re parents who now have to bury their son.

“I can’t imagine the pain they’re going through right now.”

Visitation for Howell will be on May 4 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wells Events at Reception Center in Waynesville. The memorial service will be held at Lake Junaluska beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

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