Friday, 27 December 2019

Heroic Star Wars fan remembered as a Jedi



A Star Wars superfan, who gave his life saving fellow college students from a gunman, has been immortalised as a Jedi by Lucasfilm.

Riley Howell was a 21-year-old ROTC cadet and student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He died in April while tackling a gunman on campus.

A tribute to Riley Howell appears in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - The Visual Dictionary. The entry in the book credits Jedi master and historian “Ri-Lee Howell” with collecting “many of the earliest accounts of exploration and codifications of The Force”.

“Riley’s courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us,” wrote fan relations team member Lucas Seastrom. “We hope that you may rejoice in his memory, and we join you in honoring his life and example.

“As a small tribute, our Story Group has incorporated a reimagining of Riley’s name as a character in the Star Wars galaxy.”

“You’re either going to run, hide and shield, or you’re going to take the fight to the assailant,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department Chief Kerr Putney said. “Having no place to run and hide, he did the last.”

Riley Howell’s mother, Natalie Henry-Howell, told the Charlotte Observer that her son would have loved the idea.

“I like the way they actually left his last name,” Henry-Howell said. “I think he would really be appreciative of that. Because, you know, they could have just said Ri-Lee – Jedi Ri-Lee – and we’d be guessing the whole time about whether or not that was really [him], but they put his last name in there just to really honor him ... and that really made me cry when I heard about it.”

Lauren Westmoreland, Howell’s girlfriend, wrote in an email that Star Wars was incredibly close to his heart.

“Though he wasn’t an artist, he loved to draw the clone trooper helmets all the time, sometimes even on my birthday cards,” Westmoreland said.

Lauren’s father, Kevin Westmoreland, said Howell was a Star Wars scholar for most of his life.

“He had a very strong sense of good and evil, and how to live life as someone who looked out for others,” Westmoreland said. “Seeing him listed as both a Jedi and a historian in Star Wars lore is a perfect way to connect him to this story and the characters he loved.”

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