The galaxy has a new Jedi master. It’s Riley Howell, the student who died trying to stop a gunman who opened fire on the UNC Charlotte campus in April.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary, a newly published book timed to coincide with the release of latest movie in the series, has immortalized the lifelong Star Wars fan with a new character named Ri-Lee Howell — a Jedi master described as a historian who preserved sacred texts.
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“It’s a book that’s actually in the movie that he was the custodian of and this Jedi master who kept these records,” Matthew Westmoreland, a friend of Howell’s and brother of his longtime girlfriend, told Charlotte NPR outlet WFAE. “That’s so perfect, because he had an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars. He could tell you anything about anything if you asked him. The fact that he’s a historian in the Star Wars universe is just spot on. Whoever did their research did a really good job on that.”
The photo above shows Howell as a boy wielding a toy Lightsaber.
The 21-year-old died as he rushed the gunman who had opened fire in a classroom. Another student also was killed and four others wounded, but local police say Howell’s courage effectively stopped the shooter.
“He took the fight to the assailant, and he unfortunately had to give his life doing so but he saved lives doing so,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney told reporters after the incident. “What he did was he took the assailant off his feet and the heroes we have here were able to apprehend from there.”
When a writer followed up by asking, “And we can say that he tackled him?” Putney replied: “That would be an understatement, but that would be fair.”
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