Hero student in UNCC shooting honored as ‘Star Wars’ Jedi

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- A local North Carolina hero is being honored with his very own place in the 'Star Wars' canon, WLOS reports.

Riley Howell was one of two students killed in the UNC Charlotte shooting last April.

He sacrificed his life trying to shield fellow students from gunfire.

A Lucasfilm spokesperson said someone from Riley's hometown told the production company about his story.

Now his courageous spirit is being immortalized in his favorite series with a character named after himself.

"To us, it's kind of like a really nice way to round out the worst year of all of our lives," said Lauren Westmoreland, his girlfriend.

The news came out about a month after the Howells learned Riley had been killed while shielding fellow students from gunfire during the shooting at UNCC in April.

The family got a letter from Lucasfilm saying Riley's courage and selflessness bring out the Jedi in all of us.

They said they have incorporated a reimagining of Riley's name as a character in the "Star Wars" galaxy.

"His name is like Ri-lee, still Riley Howell, but it's spelled RI-LEE. And he's technically just like a Jedi master historian who I guess has preserved these books," Westmoreland said. "The physical books have passages written in the hands of the original sages carefully preserved by Howell, so that's what's written in the actual book."

When you search the "Star Wars" fan site Wookieepedia, you'll find Ri-lee Howell on his own page first mentioned in the "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" visual dictionary.

"Like his fifth birthday was all 'Star Wars' themed, so it was a little cake hat, a bunch of figurines on it, and he, like, named all of them, made everyone be quiet so he could name them all."

A larger than life character for a larger than life person.

"That's what everybody was saying. He's a Jedi master and he's a hero," Westmoreland said.

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