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UNC Charlotte shooting: Student jumped on gunman to save others, police say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two students were killed and four were injured when a gunman opened fire Tuesday evening at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Authorities identified the slain students as Riley Howell, 21, and Ellis Parlier, 19. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said Howell “took the fight to the assailant” on Tuesday, tackling the gunman in a move that helped police to quickly apprehend the man and likely spared his classmates’ lives.

The alleged shooter, identified by authorities as Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, has been charged with multiple crimes, including two counts of murder.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 3:35 p.m. EDT May 1: Police said Wednesday that the person who opened fire Tuesday at UNCC had targeted the building in which he carried out the attack but that he had no specific victims in mind, The Associated Press reported.

Authorities did not say how many students were in the anthropology class at the time of the shooting but said it was a fairly large class.

Putneysaid the gun used in the shooting was legally purchased.

Update 11:45 a.m. EDT May 1: An unidentified source told WSOC-TV that one of the students killed in Tuesday's shooting was struck while trying to jump on the gunman.

The source told WSOC-TV that Riley Howell, 21, tried to tackle Terrell to save other students. Authorities did not immediately confirm the report.

Howell and 19-year-old Ellis Parlier died in the attack, according to WSOC-TV.

Officials with North Carolina's Union County Public Schools system confirmed Parlier's death Wednesday. Andrew Houlihan, the schools system's superintendent, said the teen was a recent graduate of Union County's Central Academy of Technology and Arts.

Update 11 a.m. EDT May 1: Authorities identified the students injured in Tuesday's shooting as Drew Pescaro, 19; Sean Dehart, 20; Emily Houpt, 23; and Rami Alramadhan, 20, UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois said.

WSOC-TV reported Alramadhan's family was traveling Wednesday from Saudi Arabia to Charlotte. Dubois is expected to visit the families of victims later Wednesday at the hospital.

Unidentified sources told WSOC-TV the two students killed in Wednesday's shooting were Ellis Parlier, 19, and Riley Howell, 21. Authorities did not immediately confirm the identities.

Update 8:04 a.m. EDT May 1: Shooting suspect Trystan Andrew Terrell has been charged with two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, possession of a firearm on educational property and discharging a firearm on educational property, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Wednesday.

He is slated to appear before a judge Thursday, WSOC reported.

Officials told WSOC-TV that Terrell is a UNCC student.

Update 11:50 p.m. EDT April 30: Shooting suspect Trystan Andrew Terrell's grandfather, Paul Rold of Arlington, Texas, said Terrell had moved to Charlotte two years ago with his father.

Rold told The Associated Press that the actions don't sound like his grandson. He said: "This is not in his DNA."

UNCC's Chancellor Phil Dubois also released a statement Tuesday evening saying "This is the saddest day in UNC Charlotte's history."

Update 10:30 p.m. EDT April 30: Authorities at the University of North Carolina Charlotte now say three of the four people injured in a deadly shooting on campus Tuesday afternoon were critically injured and one person had non-life-threatening injuries.

One of the injured victims is a Massachusetts native and sophomore at UNCC.

Boston 25 News spoke with a relative of Drew Pescaro's who told the station that the communications major grew up in Rutland and Shrewsbury before moving to North Carolina with his parents and three brothers about ten years ago.

"What we know is that he spoke to his mother on the way to the hospital. His parents live about two hours from the campus. The fact that he was able to talk to his mother was pretty reassuring," Pescaro's cousin said.

Pescaro is a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. His brothers posted a message on Twitter thanking everyone for keeping Drew in their thoughts and prayers.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper was expected in Charlotte Tuesday night to meet with local officials.

He said the shooting was " a tragic day for Charlotte and this great university," in a post on social media.

"We mourn the lives lost and we will all be here to support each other. I commend the first responders for their quick action and am grateful that the campus is now secure," Cooper said.

Tuesday was the last day of classes for the semester. A lot of students were on campus at the time of the shooting for a baseball game and concert that were scheduled Tuesday night.

The university said all final exams have been canceled through Sunday.

Original story: Mecklenburg Emergency Medical Services Agency said on Twitter that two people were found dead at the scene, two others have life-threatening injuries and two others have injuries that are not life-threatening. They said the numbers could change.

The alleged shooter, identified as Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, is in custody. The University of North Carolina campus police chief said Terrell was armed with a pistol and quickly disarmed by officers, according to The Associated Press.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles expressed shock over the shootings and offered condolences to the families of the victims in a post on social media.

"We are in shock to learn of an active shooter situation on the campus of UNC Charlotte," Lyles said.

"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives, those injured, the entire UNCC community and the courageous first responders who sprang into action to help others," she said.

The university canceled all activities for Tuesday night.

Campus police said the scene is secure and that they don't believe anyone else is involved in the incident, but they are still searching the campus room by room to identify anyone sheltering in place, according to a police post on social media.

The first report of shots fired occurred at about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday near the Kennedy Building at UNCC, officials told WSOC-TV.

Aerial shots from local television news outlets showed police officers running toward a building, while another view showed students running on a campus sidewalk.

A UNCC student told WSOC-TV over the phone that he was heading to the Waka Flocka Flame concert at the Jerry Richardson Stadium when he heard that there were reports of shots fired.

"It was terrifying -- did not expect it in the least," the student said.

The university later reported that law enforcement officers were sweeping campus buildings.

The university has more than 26,500 students and 3,000 faculty and staff.

The Associated Press, WFXT and the Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

New information about the shooting from overnight, on Channel 2 Action News This Morning

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