'Let's tell Riley we love him': Hundreds gather to honor UNC Charlotte shooting victim

From USA Today:

Before Riley Howell was hailed as a hero who helped prevent further deaths, he was a big brother who never turned down a wrestling match.

He was a toddler who learned sign language to communicate with his deaf uncle. An athletic teammate who fostered his love of the outdoors in others.

Howell was the tall, blond teenage boy who met Lauren Westmoreland met more than five years ago at a four-way intersection.

"You taught me how to take life a little less seriously, to be able to enjoy every moment that you're given," said Westmoreland, Howell's longtime girlfriend. She's described as his "soulmate" in his obituary.

"From now on, when the sun shines warm and gently on my face I will know that it's you, holding me in spirit just as you did in our life."

Less than a week after police said he charged a gunman who opened fire in a UNC Charlotte classroom, hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of Howell. The mountain native's public memorial was held at Lake Junaluska's Stuart Auditorium, near his hometown of Waynesville.

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