What We Know About The UNC Charlotte Shooting

May 2, 2019
Originally published on May 6, 2019 2:20 pm

Updated: Monday at 2:30 p.m.

It was the last day of classes for UNC Charlotte students when a shooter opened fire in a classroom building during an anthropology class, killing two students and injuring four others. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have taken over the investigation into the shooting and more details are sure to emerge in the coming days. But here’s what we know:

One of the victims, 21-year-old Riley Howell, tackled the shooter. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said he helped save lives. 

"But for his work, the assailant may not have been disarmed. Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process," Putney said.

The shooter — Trystan Terrell, 22, a former UNCC student — was quickly taken into custody by UNCC police.

The Timeline Of Events:

  • Around 5:40 p.m. April 30, 2019, Terrell opened fire in a classroom at Kennedy Hall, a building located near the center of campus. Two people were killed and four were injured. UNCC professor Adam Johnson said in a tweet that his students were giving end-of-year presentations during his anthropology class.
  • At 5:42 p.m., police received reports of an active shooter in the Kennedy building. UNCC police Chief Jeff Baker said his officers responded quickly and were able to take Terrell into custody. A call was also sent out to CMPD, who responded with officers.
  • At 5:50 p.m., the university sent out a campus-wide alert saying, “Shots reported near kennedy. Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately.” The university was placed under lockdown.
  • At 6:42 p.m., CMPD sent out a tweet advising students and families to go to a nearby Harris Teeter parking lot to be reunified.
  • At 6:43 p.m., the university sent out an alert that buildings were being swept by law enforcement, telling students to follow officer commands.
  • At 6:47 p.m., Mecklenburg County Medic tweeted that two people were dead and four others injured.
  • At 7:39 p.m., CMPD tweeted that the scene was secure and they had a shooter in custody. Campus police and CMPD then went room-to-room to find people sheltering in place on campus.
  • Around 10 p.m., police and university officials gave permission for students and faculty to leave campus.
  • At 5:20 a.m., the lockdown was lifted but the Kennedy building remained closed due to the active crime scene.

Who Are The Shooting Victims?

Ellis Reed Parlier, 19, of Midland: Parlier was one of the victims who was killed. Parlier was studying Information Technology and had hopes of becoming a game developer, his parents told the Associated Press. His parents described their son as kind and quiet, with a witty sense of humor.

Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville: Howell was the second victim who was killed in the shooting. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters Wednesday afternoon that Howell tackled the shooter and sacrificed his life in the process. Putney said, "Riley saved lives." An officer on scene also helped to disarm the shooter.

He was a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, North Carolina. He was studying engineering.

Drew Pescaro, 20, of Apex: Pescaro was one of the students injured during the shooting. He went into surgery Tuesday night and came out of it stable, according to the student newspaper Niner Times. He studies communications at UNCC. He’s a sportswriter for the Niner Times and co-hosts a sports talk radio show.

Sean DeHart, 19, of Apex: DeHart was one of the students injured. He’s a member of the UNCC Class of 2021. Prior to coming to the university, he graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh. His social media shows that he’s an avid Yankees fan.

Rami Al-Ramadhan, 20, of Saudi Arabia: Al-Ramadhan was injured during the shooting. He’s a freshman student from Saudi Arabia. He’s studying engineering at UNCC, but his Twitter feed also said he’s an aspiring photographer. His social media is filled with pictures he took of UNCC’s campus.

Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte: Houpt was also injured in the shooting. A professor posted on social media that she was able to leave the hospital Wednesday. She’s a global studies major at UNCC who would like to become a human rights advocate. She interns at The Worlds Affairs Council of Charlotte and also works at Trader Joe’s.

[Read more about the shooting victims here]

What Do We Know About The Shooter?

Police identified the shooter as 22-year-old Trystan Terrell. He was a former student at UNCC and has lived in Charlotte since 2014. He lived previously in Mansfield, Texas, and moved to Charlotte with his father.

Terrell faces two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder. Police said he had “some familiarity” with the Kennedy building and likely chose the location for the shooting. Authorities will not comment on if he had a relationship with the class or his victims.  

Police have not suggested any motive for the killings.

[Read more about the shooter here]

What Weapon Did He Use?

Police say Terrell had a handgun that he purchased legally and a large amount of ammunition.

What Happened In The Classroom? 

Police are not going into detail about the order of events in the shooting itself, but Chief Putney did make a few things clear. At Wednesday's news conference, Putney said Terrell specifically targeted the Kennedy building but did not say why. The motive behind the shooting is still unclear. 

Putney also said Riley Howell saved lives Tuesday when he tackled the gunman. UNCC officers were then able to take Terrell into custody. 

"He took the fight to the assailant, and he unfortunately had to give his life doing so but he saved lives doing so," Putney said. "What he did was he took the assailant off his feet and the heroes we have here were able to apprehend from there."

Police are not releasing further details of the shooting at this time. 

[Read more about Riley Howell's actions during the shooting here]

What Are UNCC Officials Saying?

UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois called the shooting the “saddest day in UNC Charlotte’s history.” He said resources are being offered to UNC students and staff as they grieve the loss and recover from the trauma of the shooting.

UNCC has given its students two options for final exams: to forgo exams and accept their current course grades as their final grades, or take their exams and have those grades included in their final grades. 

Looking forward to the May 11 graduation, Dubois said this year's ceremony is "in some ways, very different."

"But at the end of the day what we're trying to do is acknowledge the hard work and dedication of about 4,800 students who will receive degrees and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate level," Dubois said. 

He said the school will also honor Parlier and Howell. Dubois told WFAE:

"We'll prepare to give degrees in memoriam to the two students who lost their lives, Reed and Riley. Their families will be there — Reed in the morning and Riley in the afternoon — and we'll present those degrees in memoriam to them. And, then, we'll go on with our regular ceremony."

[Chancellor Dubois' interview on WFAE here]

What Recovery Resources Are Available To Students And Faculty? 

Novant Health is encouraging anyone who needs grief counseling to call 1-800-786-1585 to talk with licensed therapists.

Niner Times reports that UNCC’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is also offering support services to students. The office has made itself available for walk-ins and will meet with student groups upon request. Students can call CAPS at 704-687-0311. It is located at 9502 Poplar Terrace Drive, behind the Student Health Center.

Clarification: The report has been changed to clarify that police have not said Riley Howell disarmed the shooter. But Chief Putney did say Howell tackled him and saved lives doing so. 

Copyright 2019 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.