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After school shootings in Colorado and North Carolina, a look at the students who confronted the gunmen

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One week apart, school shootings occurred in North Carolina and Colorado – in both, brave students died charging the gunmen in an effort to stop the shooting and save their classmates.

On April 30, a former student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte opened fire inside a classroom. Riley Howell, a 21-year-old student there, charged the gunman and tackled him to the ground. Howell was shot at least three times, including once when he was only inches away from the gunman, and died stopping the massacre. One other student died and four others were wounded, but the police told Howell’s parents no one else was shot after he body-slammed the shooter.

One week later, on May 7, two students opened fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. When one gunman came into his English class, 18-year-old senior Kendrick Castillo lunged to stop him and was shot dead – a decision his teacher said gave other students time to take cover under their desks or rush the gunman themselves. Eight students were injured in the attack, but there were no other deaths.

Both Howell and Castillo are being hailed as heroes, having likely saved many lives with their decisions to attack the gunman.

Larry speaks with an expert in school safety and prevention about these students’ decisions and the best strategies for reacting to an active shooter.


Susan Payne, expert in school safety and prevention at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence; she also spent 28 years in law enforcement and founded Safe2Tell, a youth violence prevention initiative in Colorado