Asheville Crossfit community to honor Riley Howell


Crossfit Asheville gym in West Asheville will host a special workout on Saturday in honor of Riley Howell, the 21-year-old Haywood County native and UNC Charlotte student who was killed in a campus shooting in April.

Crossfit Asheville, a gym where Howell was a member, plans to honor Howell with a special workout. Heats start at 8 a.m. at the gym on Haywood Road in West Asheville. The event is set for Saturday, July 13. Proceeds will benefit the Riley Howell Foundation Fund. Other Crossfit gym members are invited to join.

Crossfit is known for special workouts named after first responders and members of the military who have died in the line of duty. A “Hero WOD” pays tribute to the fallen, and Riley 21 is just such a workout. It’s a series of dead lifts, toes-to-bar, power cleans and bench presses.

Howell was a member of ROTC. The U.S. Army announced that the ROTC Medal of Heroism was posthumously awarded to Howell’s family in a private ceremony held at UNC Charlotte in May.

Howell was killed the afternoon of April 30 after he tackled a suspect who had opened fire inside a classroom in the Kennedy Building on the UNC Charlotte campus, where Howell was a student. Another student, Ellis Parlier, was shot and killed. Four other students were wounded. Police officials said Howell’s decision to throw himself at the shooter saved countless lives. He was hailed as a hero.

Howell’s family established the Riley Howell Foundation Fund at The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina with the aim of supporting families affected by gun violence. Last month the foundation announced that it had approved donations to UNC Charlotte and to STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado to fund traumatic grief counseling services for students and faculty affected by recent shootings on those campuses.