To the students, staff, faculty, alumni and greater UNC Charlotte community,
The last day of classes is meant to be a joyous and exciting time where students celebrate the end of a a lengthy school semester. Sadly, a mere matter of minutes changed everything forever as a former UNC Charlotte student opened fire on a classroom in Kennedy.
The focus of this letter will not be the perpetrator of this horrific act. He will not be named. At the Niner Times, our coverage will not serve to sensationalize or rationalize said perpetrator. As a campus, we are mourning the loss of two fellow students while trying to support those that were injured in the act. That has been and will continue to be our focus. The victims of this act are what matter most here.
Ellis “Reed” Parlier, 19
Riley Howell, 21
Those two names will be ingrained in our memories as two of our fallen friends, classmates and fellow Niners. Two innocent students were killed in a place they should have been safest.
Drew Pescaro, 19
Sean DeHart, 20
Rami Al-Ramadhan, 20
Emily Houpt, 23
Those four names will also be ingrained in our memories. They are the injured victims in this unspeakably tragic event. It is up to us as students of UNC Charlotte to support and be there for those four students as they recover and try their best to move forward.
It’s a matter of fact that this type of violence is recurring in our society, but this should never feel normal. Students should not have to run across campus in fear for their life. Professors should not have to barricade their students in classrooms and sit in silence while waiting for police to arrive. Parents shouldn’t have to clutch their phones, awaiting word of if their child is safe or not. Sadly, this is the world we live in, and UNC Charlotte experienced it firsthand.
The fact that a shooting occurred on campus should not be the defining trait of our school and community. We are a vibrant and diverse collective of people from all around the world. What has been seen in the moments, hours and now days after the event occurred is nothing short of powerful.
In the immediate aftermath, the unity and support seen on and around campus really demonstrates the bond of this college community. There were numerous occasions in which strangers banded together to ride things out and share information. Even those just checking in on others means the world. On a personal level, I am massively grateful to a handful of students who gave me a ride off campus to safety as I was running away from the scene. There are surely several stories such as this where people just wanted to help in any way possible.
In times such as this, it is difficult to comprehend and process everything that is happening. It is undeniably important to rely on your support system. Reach out to friends and give your parents and family a call. Also, be sure to make use of the assistance that the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services is providing. More information can be found here. However you may be feeling is totally valid and there are plenty of people that will listen to you and help you process what you’re going through. This is a communal effort and we all have to help one another get through this.
The staff of Niner Times is dedicated to providing coverage of this event and its aftermath. Our mission is to tell the story of what happened to our campus as accurately, responsively and respectfully as possible. As journalists who are also students, it is our obligation to report information to the campus community even as we ourselves process and mourn. I have to take a moment to commend the Niner Times staff for doing their jobs and providing exceptional coverage in the face of an unspeakable tragedy. It is especially difficult for us as our colleague Drew Pescaro is one of the injured victims. The staff of Niner Times stands behind Drew and wishes him the absolute best on his road to recovery.
As difficult as the coming days, weeks and months will be, we will get through it. Niners are resilient and strong. We will continue to honor our fallen and try to pick up the pieces to find a way forward. It won’t be easy, but the heroism, bravery and courage that was seen from faculty, staff, students and first responders should serve to inspire us to keep up the fight and march forward. Without those heroes, things may have continued to spiral out of control. We are forever indebted to them. Moving forward, take some time to reflect. Be there for yourself and be there for others.
Jeffrey Kopp, Editor-in-Chief of Niner Times
Correction: This letter originally misidentified Ellis Parlier as “Ellis Parker.” This error has been corrected and his preferred name of “Reed” has been added. The Niner Times deeply regrets this error.
Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Rami Al-Ramadhan’s name was incorrectly spelled as Rami Alramadhan. The Niner Times regrets this error.