Riley Howell – a 21-year-old hero who died while saving fellow classmates in the UNC Charlotte shooting – has been honored as a Jedi Master in the new Star Wars universe book. The college student, along with another 19-year-old classmate, took the bullets and thus prevented more injuries and deaths after a gunman opened fire in one of the classrooms of the University of North Carolina. Riley has been hailed as a hero by the local police, who praised his quick thinking and courage that “saved lives.”

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Image credits: Lauren Westmoreland

“He loved Star Wars, birds, cards, snowboarding, going to the lake, Kentucky Hot Browns cooking from scratch with cast iron while listening to the Feel Good Classic Soul playlist, and his Lauren,” Riley’s family told the media. “He could also put away a pizza.” Following the tragic death of the college student, people commemorated him in many different ways. But Riley’s family feels that the most recent commemoration is the most fitting one.

Lauren Westmoreland, Riley’s girlfriend of almost six years, recently announced a heartwarming tribute to the late hero in a TikTok video. Apparently, Riley is immortalized in the new book named Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Visual Dictionary. In it, Riley becomes “Ri-Lee Howell – a Jedi Master and historian of the Jedi Order.” Lucasfilm, the studio behind the Star Wars movies, has created a new character in its storied mythology, and let the Howell family know by sending them a heartfelt letter.

“Riley’s courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us. We hope you may rejoice in his memory, and we join you in honoring his life and example,” the letter went. “All of us here extend our deepest condolences. The Force will be with Riley, and all of you, always.”

Lauren says that Riley grew up watching the Star Wars films and was a huge fan of the franchise, therefore this tribute is especially moving to the hero’s family.

In the TikTok video, Lauren said: “Thanks for giving my love the perfect Christmas present ever, and making him a part of the Star Wars universe perpetually.”

“Having this positive thing come out this time of year, it’s just the best Christmas gift any of us could’ve ever received given the circumstances,” she added. “It makes it just a little bit okay,” Lauren told the media.

Image credits: MatthewWestmoreland

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