UNC Charlotte Graduation Being Held Days After Fatal Shooting

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– A brass band opened the UNC Charlotte commencement ceremony Friday with a song written for victims of the Columbine shooting, while ‘Niner Nation United’ illuminated for the thousands who packed Halton Arena.

Graduates tried their best to celebrate a new chapter, but many were still haunted by the events of April 30th. That’s when a gunman opened fire in a Kennedy Building classroom, killing Riley Howell and Ellis Reed Parlier and injuring four others.

“We are doing this for Reed and Reilly and we just are honoring their memory,” says graduate Caty Miller.

“It breaks my heart that they were not able to graduate and complete their finals and go to the process of graduating and living their life,” adds grad Kaylah Henderson.

During the ceremony, a moment of silence was held for Riley and Reed. Then one by one, the graduates walked across the stage.

“Well I am excited for myself, I’m not forgetting what happened on that campus on April 30. Not forgetting their names, I’m not forgetting the impact that they left on our campus community,” says student commencement speaker Kristine Slade.

The University added safety measures to the commencement ceremonies in light of the shooting. Students and their families had to go through metal detectors before going inside Halton Arena.

Shooting survivor Emily Houpt will graduate Saturday. Reed and Riley will also be honored with their diplomas on Saturday as well.

For WCCB’s complete coverage of the deadly UNC Charlotte shooting, click HERE.