Murdered UNC Charlotte student Riley Howell's family and longtime girlfriend said they are "beyond proud" of his sacrifice.
But they are grappling with how to go on without him.
Riley Howell, 21, was one of the two students killed in a campus shooting Tuesday at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte that also left four other students wounded.
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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney hailed the environmental studies major as the "first and foremost hero" of the shooting, saying he "took the fight" to the alleged gunman and got him "off of his feet." That gave the police crucial time to close in on the suspected shooter, police said.
"We are just beyond proud of what he was able to do," Natalie Henry-Howell, Riley Howell's mother, told "Today." "While kids were running one way, our son turned and ran towards the shooter."
"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," his mom added.