Riley Howell, the 21-year-old man who lost his life stopping a mass shooter at UNC Charlotte from claiming more lives, was honored in an unexpected way by Lucasfilm when he was canonized as a Jedi Master in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - The Visual Dictionary.
Lauren Westmoreland, Howell's girlfriend of six years, was surprised to receive a letter from Lucasfilm stating their intentions to officially make Riley Howell into "Ri-Lee Howell, Jedi Master and historian" following the release of The Rise Of Skywalker.
Probably the saddest, coolest TikTok I’ve ever seen. Long live Ri-Lee 🤟🏻 https://t.co/xuT2Q7Y4MA— Feliz NaviDaddo 🎄 (@Feliz NaviDaddo 🎄)1577117649.0
Westmoreland says Riley was the biggest Star Wars fan ever and that he had been since he was a kid.
So when the letter from Lucasfilm arrived, it seemed too good to be true.
"Riley's courage and selflessness brings out the Jedi in all of us," said the letter from Lucasfilm. "As a small tribute, our Story Group has incorporated a re-imagining of Riley's name as a character in the 'Star Wars' galaxy. We can't reveal the specific details at this time, but the character's name will appear in a forthcoming book publication later this year."
The story is touching countless people across the internet.
@officerdaddo Beautiful tribute to a courageous, selfless soul who epitomized a true Jedi Warrior. #LongliveRiLee— Jaye B🎇 (@Jaye B🎇)1577119639.0
@officerdaddo my eye juice is flowing— dominic 😈🔪 (@dominic 😈🔪)1577127089.0
@officerdaddo I'm not crying in my office at work, you are https://t.co/w1uWDzbCvX— 𝚌𝚑𝚟𝚛𝚕𝚎𝚜 🌮 (@𝚌𝚑𝚟𝚛𝚕𝚎𝚜 🌮)1577135849.0
@officerdaddo So damn awesome. https://t.co/5OOtBhfCwF— The Painted Fool (@The Painted Fool)1577118663.0
@officerdaddo May the force be with him!!— Greenie22 (@Greenie22)1577121049.0
"Howell collected many accounts of explorations of the Force in the two volumes of the Aionomica, Aionomicum I and Aionomicum II, carefully preserving the original texts"
@officerdaddo Currently sitting in my office at work trying not to cry 🥺🥺😭😭— Marianne Lawrence (@Marianne Lawrence)1577127483.0
@officerdaddo @BobbyPantuso I'm not crying.— Abominable Hughman. (@Abominable Hughman.)1577123256.0
@officerdaddo long live ri-lee— cory(and pig) ⁿᵒʷ ʷᶦᵗʰ ʳᵃᵗˢ (@cory(and pig) ⁿᵒʷ ʷᶦᵗʰ ʳᵃᵗˢ)1577146392.0
@officerdaddo @sweetmama_j I'm not okay— MamaLlama ((B)) (@MamaLlama ((B)))1577148900.0
@officerdaddo Oh my God. My heart.— big-head-jillian (@big-head-jillian)1577153027.0
In a post on reddit, Westmoreland's brother said Lucasfilm's gesture meant the world to them.
"Riley was a massive Star Wars fan, and in the five-plus years I knew him he repeatedly surprised me with his encyclopedic knowledge of the Star Wars universe. The fact that his character is a historian who put together an incredibly important text for the Jedi religion, important enough for Rey and Luke to take with them on the Millennium Falcon, is beyond cool, and we have no words for this except: Thank you, Lucasfilm. You made our Christmas, even though we're finishing the most difficult year in memory for us all."
@officerdaddo I’m not crying, you’re crying! 😭 https://t.co/9XZrUTj5Nk— Laura Eismont (@Laura Eismont)1577154852.0
@officerdaddo Damn 😭😭😭 my feelings 😭😭😭❤— Hotep Dad Max (@Hotep Dad Max)1577162857.0
@officerdaddo @FB_FilmAnalysis https://t.co/rl2pgNqx5Q— Kristian (@Kristian)1577167470.0
@officerdaddo LEGEND!— Criscat (@Criscat)1577178988.0
@officerdaddo @TrendTechBlog IM NOT CRYING IM SWEATING TROUGH MY EYES. Well… wow… I… I… heard many times that the… https://t.co/1bNXSocLmU— John NemECis (@John NemECis)1577183658.0
We're not crying, you're crying.