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Students who are struggling or need someone to talk to can make an appointment with Charlotte's Center for Psychological Services (CAPS).

Students who witness or fall victim to any form of violence can call the Emergency Services & Hotlines Carolinas Medical Center:

- Behavioral Health/Emergency: 704-444-2400
- Mobile Crisis Unit: 704-566-3410
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Charlotte campus police can be reached at:

- Emergency number: 704‑687‑2200
- Non-emergency number: 704‑687‑8300.

Additional Information

The Day of Remembrance is scheduled for April 28, 2023, with the dedication of the April 30 Memorial beginning at 3 p.m.

Niner Nation Remembers is a UNC Charlotte resource containing more information about the April 30 Memorial and details of Day of Remembrance and April 30 overall.
The digital remembrance memorial, including a photo gallery, videos and oral history, can be reached at the Niners Remember Digital Memorial.
The J. Murrey Atkins Library archive details manuscript collection from April 30, including memorial items from the Kennedy Building here.

Remembering Ellis "Reed" Parlier

The Parliers, professors and students discuss Reed Parlier’s impact and legacy

  • Updated

CW: This article mentions a past shooting on campus on April 30, 2019.

On April 30, 2019, an avoidable tragedy claimed the lives of two, including Ellis “Reed” Parlier. Reed was 19 years old but left an unforgettable impact on others.

“Reed didn’t have to boast about what he did because he just did it,” said his father, Brian Parlier. “Just like he was naturally born with his hair, he was also naturally kind.”

Reed was born in Charlotte on Oct. 2, 1999, to Julie and Brian Parlier. He had a younger sister, Mallory. He attended high school at the Central Academy for Technology and Arts (CATA) in Monroe, N.C. In 2019, Reed was a sophomore at Charlotte studying computer science.

Reed was fascinated with objects as a child, including a train set he put together at age 2. Reed was active and engaged but, most importantly, was content. Brian said his son was a trained thinker.

“We gave him a train set around 2, and he was meticulous when putting it together,” said Brian Parlier. “He was very smart, and when we met with his first-grade teacher at a parent-teacher conference, I started to ask him multiplication problems, and he got them all right.”

His mother, Julie, said her son was silent until he had something to say.

“He had a dry sense of humor, and he would make us laugh out of nowhere,” she said. “He never caused us issues, and he made being a parent easy.”

Reed has been described as a giver who made others feel wanted. Julie said his giving nature was present from a young age.

“He helped special needs kids, tutored his fellow students and helped his grandmother who had Alzheimer’s,” said Julie Parlier. “Reed would save money when he went out with his friends, and if they needed something, he would pay for it without asking for it back.”

As a high school student, Reed gave back to his classmates. 

“He was tutoring a student at his high school that had cancer, and Reed offered to help them catch up so they wouldn’t be left behind,” said Julie Parlier.

In the days after the tragedy, Julie, Brian and Mallory saw butterflies that reminded them of Reed. Julie said the family always sees Reed in those butterflies.

“We had a lot of people around our house right after the tragedy. Mallory went around the garage to get away from all the people, and a Monarch butterfly landed near her,” said Julie Parlier. “Then, one of my friends took me to a park to escape everything, and we stood over a water bridge, and two butterflies kept flying around my face.”

Brian said he had a similar experience.

“When I was walking through the yard, two butterflies landed on my shoulders,” said Brian Parlier. 

Impact on other students

At Charlotte, Reed’s impact has been felt by students and professors.

Nathan Weisskopf was the first recipient of the Reed Parlier Memorial Scholarship. He received $72,000 from the University in honor of Reed. Weisskopf, a graduate of Reed’s high school, is a junior at Charlotte studying software and AI.

Weisskopf was selected from 1,500 candidates for the scholarship and said being chosen was wonderful. 

“It is an indescribable feeling having the scholarship. I was trying to quantify it when I received it, but I always wonder, ‘why me?,’” said Weisskopf. “I hope I have been able to do right by it through my school and extracurriculars.”

“I never knew Reed, but I had friends that knew him. I remember an acquaintance from high school breaking down and crying after the shooting because they knew him,” said Weisskopf. “It was in my life from the day of his passing, but it isn’t in the same ballpark as his family and friends.”

Weisskopf works for Lenovo STARS Teams as a brand representative. He said his new job has allowed him to give back something he learned from Reed.

“Reed is someone who has given more than me,” said Weisskopf. “My favorite aspect of my new job is that I feel I can improve someone else’s day through my work.”

Weisskopf said Reed has impacted him by giving him freedom.

“Not having that burden on my parents and the freedom has allowed me to find who I am as a person, which I wouldn’t have without this scholarship,” said Weisskopf. “I am blessed and glad, but it wasn’t worth what happened to Reed.”

Weisskopf shared what people should take away from the tragedy.

“Reed wasn’t here for long but had such a major impact on others, and that should be enough to make you wake up every day and give your all to help those around you,” said Weisskopf.

Relationship with professors

Dr. Nadia Najjar taught Reed in his final semester. In Najjar’s class, she built relationships with students as they had to check in with her during projects.

She became close with Reed over the semester and described him as a quiet student with comprehensive knowledge of topics.

“He was in a class of 100 plus students, but I knew him personally because of those touchpoints,” said Najjar. “He was a quiet student, and I knew that he had a lot of knowledge in the topic and had a lot of experience outside of the regular curriculum.”

Najjar first heard the news of the tragedy after she had left campus. She was teaching a class in the Kennedy Building just an hour before.

“I immediately contacted all my students, asking them to let me know if they were okay,” said Najjar. “The next morning, the names came out, and Reed’s name is Ellis Parlier. I got to know him as Reed, and as soon as I heard his name, I told my husband that he was my student. I checked my class roll, and it was him, which was really hard.”

Najjar said Reed was beloved by his fellow students because he made everyone feel important.

“When I asked a question, he wouldn’t jump to answer but instead waited to let his fellow students answer the question. If no one raised their hand, he would jump in and speak,” said Najjar.

“We did paired programming in that class, and since he had that extra experience, he would take the time to help other students learn by answering their questions. I could see that the other students appreciated his patience, and he created a bond with all of them.”

Reed was an avid video game player who had become friends with fellow gamers nationwide. Najjar said Reed taught her a final lesson after meeting his friends.

“I was honored to be invited to be a part of the celebration of life, and when I went there, I got to know more about him,” said Najjar. “I have a son, and at that point, he was 9 or 10 and was starting to get into gaming, and seeing Reed’s friends from gaming changed my perspective, as it allowed me to see how they connected. He taught me something even after he wasn’t with us anymore.”

Carrying on the legacy

Reed’s parents are carrying on his legacy by hosting the 2023 Reed Parlier Golf Tournament on Monday, May 1, at the Pine Lake Country Club. Since the event’s inception in 2019, more than $750,000 has been raised in honor of Reed.

Reed’s father said the event was created due to the abundance of people hoping to help.

“People want to give in those situations, and we didn’t want to benefit from Reed’s death. So we set up a scholarship for students and the golf tournament,” said Brian Parlier.

Reed’s mother said the event continues to add more people each year.

“Finally, we made the golf tournament an annual thing. And each year, it gets bigger and bigger by raising more money for students,” said Julie Parlier.

Reed was a giver, and his impact continues to live on. The pain of losing a son is something that the Parliers will never forget. Brian said people should continue to live their lives even when tragedy strikes.

“The world is a great place, but sadly, there are bad spots along the way,” said Brian Parlier. “You can’t stop these tragedies, but we can’t shelter our students because we want them to achieve great things.”

Julie shared one thing people should take away from this event: “Live your life like it is the last day.”

A tragedy occurred on Charlotte’s campus four years ago, taking Reed from us. Reed made a lasting impact on those he encountered in just a short amount of time. Reed’s legacy will live on and has created everlasting beauty that will continue to grow on the University’s campus.

Remembering Riley Howell

Teddy Howell discusses his memories of his older brother and his lasting legacy

  • Updated

CW: This article mentions a past shooting on campus on April 30, 2019.

In the fall of 2018, Riley Howell of Waynesville, N.C., enrolled at UNC Charlotte as an environmental studies major after transferring from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Throughout his time at Charlotte, Riley was described as optimistic, joyful and selfless. Eventually, he was hailed a hero. 

On April 30, 2019, a gunman opened fire on anthropology professor Adam Johnson’s class presentations in the Kennedy Building. To prevent any more harm, Riley tackled the gunman and urged students to “go, go, go” for their safety, according to survivor Rami Al-Ramadhan. In the process, Howell died from his injuries along with his fellow student, Ellis “Reed” Parlier of Midland, N.C. Howell was 21 years old, and Parlier was 19.

After the shooting, both young men were hailed as heroes by their families, friends and their communities for their sacrifice. 

Riley was not only a student at Charlotte and a hero, but he was also a friend, son and loving brother. Riley’s younger brother, Teddy Howell, now 18 years old, gives an in-depth glimpse of who his older brother was before he lost his life. 

Before his death, Riley was like everyone else: he was a big fan of Star Wars, liked spending time outdoors, especially time spent with his family and friends, worked out and listened to music such as The Rolling Stones. Their song “Jumping Jack Flash” was one of his favorites. 

Teddy’s memories of Riley

To Teddy, Riley was an older brother and role model to his siblings and everyone he interacted with.

“He was definitely like a big brother, but to us in that nature, he’d pick on you sometimes, but it was always out of a good-natured spirit. If you were ever in real trouble, he was right there. If you ever got hurt or anything, he’ll dive right in head first to help you out.”

Teddy described his brother as kind, caring and inspiring. Despite their seven-year age difference, it did not stop Riley from spending time with his younger brother.

“He would always put up with me because, of course, I wanted to hang out with him all the time. He and his friends, whenever they’d be over, I’d want to be right there. They probably didn’t wanna hang out with [his] nine-year-old little brother when he was 16. But he always did. I appreciated that. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it because he would always hang out with me.”

When Riley started college at Charlotte, Teddy described his relationship with Riley as “a big change” for him, as Riley and his sisters were closer in age. 

Teddy recalled more memories of his older brother before his death, ones that he will always remember. Age and time never stopped the brothers from spending time with one another. Teddy explained their bond became stronger throughout his time in college. 

“It wasn’t until that first year he went to Charlotte that we became closer as not just brothers but as friends. He could be his true self, and I was growing into more of my true self.” 

Around the summer before Riley’s death, another memory that stuck with Teddy was when Riley taught Teddy how to drive a boat.

“In the summer of 2018, we had this houseboat on a lake called Fontana near Bryson City. It’s a floating house. It’s pretty old and rundown, but it’s fun. We always go there in the summer,” said Teddy. “At the time, it was him, his girlfriend Lauren and I, and he taught me how to drive a boat. I was super nervous because I’d probably driven a car before, but a boat is sort of daunting because of the freedom you have to drive wherever. There aren’t lanes or anything. You just sort of know to stay on the right side.” 

“That moment always stuck with me because he taught me how to do a lot of things. But that was one of the biggest because I know for him, me and probably all of our family, that houseboat is like our favorite place in the world.”

Teddy was thankful that it was Riley who taught him how to drive a boat.

“I always knew I was gonna learn how to drive a boat, but to learn from him was such a special time with just us.” 

Another memory Teddy recalled was Riley’s birthday. To him, Riley was “a big eater,” and their mother came across a certain dish that Riley would soon typically eat on his birthday. 

“I don’t know how my mom found it. They’re called Kentucky Hot Browns. They’re open-face sandwiches, served on basically white bread. There’s gravy, tomatoes, bacon and thick-cut turkey breast on it. We’d always make those for his birthday.”

From the moment their mother made that one particular dish, Riley took a liking to it; inevitably, it would become a tradition.

“I think originally, Mom just made them one day. My sisters didn’t like them because they had raw tomatoes on them, and at the time, they didn’t like tomatoes. It became a tradition because Riley ended up really liking them.”

Riley’s legacy

In the aftermath of the shooting, Riley is remembered for his sacrifice and legacy. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions. 

His memory was not only awarded but was immortalized as a Star Wars character. Lucasfilm sent a letter to the Howell family, where they expressed their deepest condolences and informed the family of the tribute to their son’s memory. The first mention of Riley’s character, Ri-Lee Howell, was in the book “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary.”

Teddy recalled the day he and his family received the letter. 

“I remember when we got the letter from Lucasfilm. We didn’t really know what the extent of that was or what all it was going to mean, but it was super cool.”

The Howell siblings’ former professor at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College even informed Riley’s girlfriend, Lauren Westmoreland, about Riley’s appearance in the book. 

“Lauren, Iris and my other sisters all had Mr. Boyd, [Riley’s old teacher]. He messaged Lauren because he had the book. We looked at the picture, and it’s literally Jedi Riley,” said Teddy.

“They used the last name Howell. Everything just sort of went off the rails right there. I remember Mark Hamill retweeted it. It was just crazy,” said Teddy.

“I know Riley would feel humbled, like, ‘I probably didn’t deserve that’ because that’s the kind of guy he was. On the inside, he probably would’ve been ecstatic because he is an official character. Our initial reaction was just shock and wonderment. [Riley] would’ve been humbled but excited at the same time.” 

In May 2019, the Riley Howell Foundation was founded. The organization was formed to help and provide counseling and funeral expenses to the families of victims who were lost to gun violence. The foundation is run and is made up of Howell family and friends, including Riley’s mother, Natalie Henry-Howell as the advisory board president. 

Remembering Riley

To Teddy, Riley was not only his older brother but one of his best friends. He remembers his brother as someone who was always willing to go out of his way to help others.

“Watching him live as a person, he was always willing to lend a helping hand if needed. He was always willing to help anybody, really. He was not a judgmental person at all. I think that’s what made him such a wonderful person. He would help you if you needed it, and he’d probably go out of his way to help you if you needed it, no matter the situation.”

“Riley, as a person at his core, was willing to help. That especially showed on that day.”

Teddy admired Riley for his selflessness and how he has inspired others to improve one’s self and be a better version of themselves. 

“It’s an amazing thing what he did. He definitely shouldn’t have had to, but it’s great that he did. I’m glad that people can take his story and find inspiration within themselves and appreciate nature in the way that he did, find a new hobby or do something to try and make themselves a better person.”

Teddy continues to live every day in Riley’s memory. His older brother continues to be a role model to others and himself. 

“There are always ways people can improve; there are a billion ways I can improve. Riley is helping me every day because, now, moving forward, anything I do, I do it for him,” said Teddy. 

“Because of him, even if it’s getting out of bed, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do in the entire day, I’d do it because he would want me to.”