The first line of defense against gunmen in a school shooting has become students willing to risk their lives to take down the shooters. Such was the case last month when University of North Carolina Charlotte student Riley Howell tackled a shooter who came in his classroom.
According to WSOC, Howell has now been awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star by a Marine Veteran who received the medals during the Vietnam war.
Thomas “Stormy” Matteo held a small ceremony where he presented the medals to the Howell family grieving the loss of their brave son.
Matteo described what Howell did as the actions “of a true hero.”
The Waynesville Police Department posted photos of the medals and plaque being presented to the Howells.
“It is with great Honor and Respect to present the American Hero Award posthumously to Riley C. Howell,” the plaque reads. “Cadet Howell with complete disregard for his personal safety, made a decision to stop an Active Shooter on his college campus. As the shooter entered the facility, he began to fire upon unarmed students. Cadet Howell tackled the suspect to the ground covering his body, in the attempt to stop the attack. As he held the suspect down, he fired numerous rounds, striking Cadet Howell. It is my Honor to present to Cadet Howell, my Bronze Starr medal with Combat V for Heroism and the Purple Heart Medal. May God watch over his soul.”
Matteo is now the president of the Purple Heart Society and received six Purple Heart medals over the course of his tour in Vietnam.
You can see the photos of the event below: