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Weekly News Roundup: Real-Life Hero Riley Howell Added to Star Wars Canon

UNC Charlotte Hero Riley Howell Honored by Star Wars

Earlier this week, friends and family of UNC Charlotte hero Riley Howell learned of an honor that has been posthumously bestowed upon the longtime Star Wars fan: He’s been entered into Jedi canon.

In a book published by Lucasfilm on Friday, Dec. 20, called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Visual Dictionary, in conjunction with the movie released on the same day, Ri-Lee Howell is listed as a historian and Jedi Master who “collected many of the earliest accounts of explorations and codifications of the Force.”

Howell’s family members, along with his girlfriend Lauren Westmoreland, received a letter from Lucasfilm shortly after his death informing them that the company would be honoring Riley in some way, though they did not find out how exactly until Monday. In a TikTok posted by Westmoreland, she wrote that he was the biggest Star Wars fan she had ever met. The post showed a photo of Riley playing with a lightsaber as a little boy.


She said that upon seeing the original letter from Lucasfilm, she thought it was too good to be true, until she saw the book. “Thank you for giving my love the best Christmas gift this year and making him part of the Star Wars universe forever,” she wrote.

Howell gave his life to stop a mass shooting on UNC Charlotte’s campus in which he and fellow student Ellis Parlier were killed on April 30. Howell rushed the shooter, who later admitted that Howell’s tackle convinced him to stop firing and give up.

Off-Duty Officer Shoots Juvenile During Attempted Robbery

The State Bureau of Investigations will investigate an incident that occurred early Friday morning in which CMPD officer Emily Bishop shot at a group of people who were holding her husband at gunpoint in an apparent attempted robbery in an apartment complex parking lot in south Charlotte, according to a CMPD release.

The suspects reportedly returned fire before fleeing the scene, and a 17-year-old male suspect was injured in the exchange. His injuries were not life-threatening. Investigators allege that the suspects had committed a burglary and armed robbery just minutes before in the same Waterford Square apartment complex where they tried to rob Bishop and her husband.

When he is discharged from the hospital, the juvenile suspect will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill on a law enforcement officer, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Bishop, who was hired in June 2018, was not injured during the incident, though she has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure whenever an officer fires their weapon.

The other suspects remain at large and officers are still investigating the unrelated armed robbery and burglary that occurred before the incident involving Bishop.

Federal Judge Halts N.C. Voter ID Law

On Friday, a federal judge put a halt to a law that requires people to show photo identification before voting in governmental elections. If upheld, the ruling will mean no ID will be necessary to vote in the presidential primaries in March 2020.

Voter ID laws have long been shown to suppress the votes of low-income people and minorities, while Republicans have passed them so as to curb the mostly made-up threat of voter fraud. In 2013, a previous voter ID law in North Carolina was also struck down after a judge ruled that the law targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”

At a press conference on Friday, Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the N.C. chapter of the NAACP, said,
“This is a long-fought-for victory against voter suppression and for equal access to the ballot in this state.”

Rev. T. Anthony Spearman. (Photo courtesy of NC NAACP/Twitter)

Jeff Hauser, a spokesperson for the N.C. Republican Party, called on state attorney general Josh Stein to appeal the decision, writing in a statement released on Friday that the judge’s decision “will invalidate the votes of millions of North Carolinians who voted overwhelmingly to implement voter ID and strengthen the integrity of N.C. elections.”

It’s unclear how the law was meant to stop fraud involving absentee ballots, which was carried out by members of Hauser’s party in 2018 and led the courts to throw out the results of the 9th congressional district election — the only threat to the integrity of N.C. elections involving voter fraud in recent years.

Police Correct Original Report of Hit-and-Run in Pedestrian Death

Carlington Jackson.

CMPD on Friday walked back original reports of a hit-and-run that the department originally thought led to the death of a man on Wilkinson Boulevard on Dec. 13. An original report released that day stated that 42-year-old Carlington Jackson was killed after being struck by an unknown woman in a Nissan Altima, then a Mercedes, then pinned under a Volvo. Police were apparently led to believe that the driver of the Altima fled the scene after the accident.

According to a report released on Friday, however, a follow-up investigation found that the driver of the Mercedes, Edwin Lewis, was the first to strike Jackson, who was crossing Wilkinson Boulevard at the intersection of Boyer Street. Jackson was then struck by the Volvo, driven by Samaria Gorman, while he was laying in the street. The woman in the Nissan Altima appears to have been made up, though it’s unclear by whom.

The original report states that the area was poorly lit and Jackson was crossing in a crosswalk but did not have the right of way, according to a witness. Neither Lewis nor Gorman are believed to have been speeding or impaired, though it’s unclear whether any other charges will be filed in relation to the wreck.

Christmas Eve Killing Among Murders This Week

Two men were murdered in Charlotte this week, bringing the total amount of killings in the city this year to 108.

Anthony Leakes

On Monday, 40-year-old Anthony Leakes was found dead in his home on Elliott Drive in northwest Charlotte. According to CMPD, Leakes’ girlfriend found him suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in his residence at around 9:30 p.m. on Monday.

The next day, just before 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 63-year-old George Agee Jr. was killed after what witnesses called a shoot out in front of 7-Eleven at the intersection of North Tryon Street and Dalton Avenue. Police stated that Agee got into an altercation with a contracted employee of the business, most likely a security guard, before the incident occurred. The guard was also injured in the shooting.

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