'Absolutely, Mr. Howell saved lives': Student who attacked gunman highly praised

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - A North Carolina college student who police say died attacking a gunman in his classroom is being remembered by friends and family as a hero.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said 21-year-old Riley Howell's sacrifice Tuesday saved lives at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte because the gunman had plenty of ammunition.

"Absolutely, Mr. Howell saved lives. He took the fight to the assailant," Chief Putney said. He described Howell as an athletically built young man, and said Howell "took the assailant off his feet."

Howell and another student died in the shooting in an anthropology class. Four other students were hurt.

"He unfortunately had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so," Putney said.

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Police arrested 22-year-old Trystan Terrell in the classroom. He is charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder.

David Belnap was Howell's friend. He came to a campus vigil Wednesday night vigil with "Riley Howell is a hero" handwritten on the back of his T-shirt.

Belnap says he wants Howell's decision to die protecting others to never be forgotten.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.