Remembering the Silent Hero of the UNC Charlotte tragedy

Remembering the Silent Hero of the UNC Charlotte tragedy

I’ve struggled to find words to express the weight of grief in my heart. As I write this post, tears keep falling and they will continue for a very long time. Sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not the way it should be.

On April 30, 2019, one of my very best friend’s sons was killed in the college shooting at UNC Charlotte. My beloved alma mater. Both of my daughter’s alma maters. My son’s current college where he was in the final week of his sophomore year.

My heart can barely handle the grief my precious friend Julie and her husband, daughter and family are experiencing.  Hearing about these horrible school shootings in the media is one thing – living it and experiencing it first hand is quite another.  Whether you personally know the victims or not, sadness reigns for the loss of innocent lives. But personally seeing people you love so much hurting in a way that is unconsolable, is harder than I ever thought possible.

There is no way to understand “why.” There is no explanation for why a loving God would allow such horrific things to happen to good, loving, beautiful, kind, innocent people. There are no words to comfort the grieving. No bible verses to ease the pain. No sermons to make the grief lesson. No books to impart understanding or peace. No recipe for joy.

Nothing. Except deep sadness for those who are gone, endless sorrow for those who are left trying to make sense of their absence, ongoing efforts to try to be with them and support them every waking moment possible and unending silent prayers for a peace and healing that seems impossible.

Reed Parlier was an amazing nineteen year old young man with a bright future. But his life was taken too soon and so unfairly. My heart physically aches. My thoughts and emotions are all over the map, and even as a strong believer with strong faith, and someone who believes the truths in God’s Word, I confess it’s hard to wrap my mind around how and why this could happen. Yet in the midst of the tragedy over the past couple weeks, I have seen faint fingerprints of God happening and I cannot help but pray that somehow, someway, He will divinely orchestrate something good to come out of all of this. But I will confess, it’s hard to imagine that it ever could.

Reed is the silent hero that the Parlier family, and all of us who love them dearly, want people to recognize and remember. There has been so much attention in the media of Riley Howell who stopped the gunman and lost his life also in the process. He is a hero for sure. My heart grieves for his family and friends. I will continue to keep them in my prayers and encourage everyone to do so as well.  Yet although Reed didn’t have a chance to be a hero, he is one, and he deserves honor and remembrance as well. Myself, our close group of friends, and our entire community is grieving this immense loss and doing all we can to help the Parlier family, while knowing that nothing can take away their pain and that the reality of this journey is going to be so incredibly long and hard.

There is only so much we can do, but what we can all do is honor Reed and make sure he is never forgotten. The Parlier’s purposefully avoided the kind of media attention that this type of story brings, so you likely haven’t seen much about them on the news, but they do want people to know how amazing Reed was and so do I.

I wanted to share an article about Reed so everyone can learn about their sweet family and intentionally keep them in your prayers for months and years to come.  Click here to read this article in The Charlotte Observer newspaper.

This past weekend, Reed’s parents walked across the stage at the 2019 UNC Charlotte graduation ceremony to accept an honorary degree for him. It’s possible the new recreation center being built on campus will be named the “Howell-Parlier Rec Center” so that these two amazing young men are never forgotten. Even more reasons to be proud of  UNC Charlotte and the way they have handled everything.

Lastly, UNC Charlotte has founded a scholarship in Reed’s name called the Ellis Reed Parlier Scholarship Fund, which is going to help countless students get a college education for many, many years to come. If you’re interested in donating to this scholarship, please click here.  #NinerNation #CharlotteStrong

Myself and the Parlier family would be so blessed if you would share this post with everyone you know.

If you’d like to leave a comment, please post it in the blog comments.






  1. Lisa on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Thank you so much Tracie for sharing “Reed’s” story. My heart is broken and I do not even know your dear friends, Julie, Brian, Mallory or Lisa. Truthfully, I have prayed for Reed’s family before your post and I will continue. I live an hour away from Charlotte and know people in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area and this hits so close to home. I do not even know what to say other than I will continue to pray for God to give this family comfort, peace and continued support from their family and friends. Julie, I will definitely not forget your precious “Reed”. ~Lisa~

    • Sharon on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 10:52 am

      Very sorry to hear about your friends son.will keep his family in my prayers.

  2. Lia Stene on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Thank you Tracie for sharing Reed’s story with us. Reed sounds much like my own quiet, introverted, sophomore, computer science major boy… my heart is broken for his family and I can only imagine their pain and sorrow. Praying for God’s comfort for your friends and all of you who loved Reed. ❤️

  3. Melissa Henderson on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I am so sorry for the loss of Reed Parlier. Thank you for sharing about him and his family. I pray for comfort and peace for you all.

  4. LIN WILSON on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Thanks Tracie for sharing this about Reed. I have a 19 year old son, so I can only imagine how painful this is for all you who knew Reed, especially his family. I will pray for comfort for the great loss this family is feeling. Reed is a hero.

  5. Maggie on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Praying for Gods Strength as you carry the burden of grief with dear friends. Lord thank you for the gift of friendship.

  6. Shannon Huneycutt on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I have prayed for the family and friends of this precious young man. I have shared with my husband and friends that I felt Reed was a hero too. He may have not had the opportunity to fight back, but the taking of his life, I know, saved another. Continued prayers for all!

  7. Rachelle Craig on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing Reed’s story, Tracie! I’m so very sorry for your loss. I am praying for peace, strength and comfort for you all.

  8. Pamela Boone on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Dear Tracie, I am so sorry that was so tragic I cried! Reed was definitely a hero it takes guts to stand up and do what he did. His family will be in my heart and prayers! Tracie, I have tried to teach out to you before but you didn’t respond back. But I am so sorry about your friend I can’t even find the words to comfort the pain. I would love to pray for you now if I may. I am praying now that God would touch you with His healing hands and give you the strengh and peace you need to get through your pain and be there for your friend! I know that you don’t know me and our paths may never cross But I just want you to know that you are my inspiration and I am praying for you my beautiful friend! I am a Christian woman and I love your Bible Study and I would love to meet you sometime and give you a big Christian hug and so thank you my friend! Sending love and prayers your way! Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 says. There is a Time for Everything and a Season for Everything under the heaven!

    • June Perera on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      Yes, indeed, there is a time and a place for everything. God is good all the time, all the time God is good. We do not always understand why things happen but God knows exactly why he allows certain things to happen. Sometimes it is to bring us closer to Him. I have not yet finished reading about Reed but I shall. This is a very sad thing that has happened to the families that have suffered loss. May God give us all strength and peace in these last and evil days.

  9. Susan Alvear Keith on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing. This truly breaks my heart and hits so close to home. Last week my 21 yr old son graduated with his B.S. in Computer Engineering, and I kept thinking as I read your bloig and the newspapet article about Reed how I might feel or react if this were my son. They had similar characteristics, their love of gaming and I really almost lost it when it talked about he and his dad making plans to go see the last movie in the Marvel Avengers series because my son and his two sisters (who are triplets) were also big fans and went to see the movie a couple days ago. I cannot even imagine the pain Reed’s parents and sister are expetiencing! Why do these senseless shootings continue to happen over and over? I certainly will keep the Parlier family in my prayers.

  10. Diana Messier on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Beautifully written Tracie. Julie and Brian are so fortunate to have your support, as well as the love and support from the other loving families we can all call friends. Watching this horrific event unfold with you was terrifying….and I am so glad your own child was spared. I cannot even begin to grasp the sadness the Parliers are enduring. My heart and prayers have been with them since the shooting….take good care. Much love,

  11. Cullwn Howell on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Thank you for this post. The Howell family continues to mourn the devastating loss of 2 brave victims and all those injured, traumatized , and affected by this senseless tragedy. Please relay my/our deepest sympathy to the Parlier family.

  12. John Lafferty on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Thank you for a beautiful eulogy for Reed. It speaks to the type of young man he was, and the impact he had on the lives he touched. Love to his family and friends. I am proud to be a 49er alumni (class of 1969) and to know young people like Reed have been drawn to my university. I went to the campus Sunday and could only stand in front of Kennedy and weep for all of these victims.

  13. Becky on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you so much. A beautiful tribute to a special young man. His family has been in my prayers and will continue to be in the days and weeks to come.

  14. Jennifer on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    It is hard to lean onto our own understanding.. It is a process and my prayers are with his family and close relatives and friends.. Senless acts of hatred that ruin so many lives. Thank You for sharing this. Please hold onto faith. God is loving and in time my prayer is for peace. God Bless.

  15. Jill on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    I know the pain! My parents were shot to death when they went to sell a car! Senseless act of violence! Like you we will never know why! Get ready for an amazing journey with the Holy Spirit! He is with you now! wrapping your family in his arms! I’ve figured out thru time God does not give us what he thinks we can handle, God handles what we are given! Would love to keep in touch! God Bless!

  16. Torrie Thompson on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 7:29 am

    Thank you for sharing Reed’s story. You’re a good friend to be a voice for a family that is in deep grievance. Healing thoughts and prayers to the family.

  17. Lynn Cowell on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Thank you, Tracie, for bringing this pain in our community to the personal level that it truly is. “I’m so sorry” feels and seems so hollow; just not enough.

    Lord, somehow, as ONLY You can, please bring good from this evil. Help us, Lord, to help those who are hurting as well as those who from a place of hurt do hurtful things. We desperately need you. In the powerful name of Jesus that gives us hope, Amen

  18. Stephanie Hewitt Brantley on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 10:14 am

    I played ball with Julie and my daughter Maddy went to School with them both Mallory and Reed at Porter Ridge and then Mallory at Piedmont! My heart break for all of Reeds family! So hard to even imagine our kids are not even safe at school! Such a great loss and sadness in the horrific tragedy!

  19. Tina on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    My husband and I were in the emergency waiting room the night of the shooting. My niece’s boyfriend of 6 years was one of the students that was shot and we were waiting to go to the surgery waiting room. His and her parents were driving in from Raliegh. Hospital was on lock down, so we were in there for a while. There was a lady there that said she couldn’t get in touch with her nephew. Her sister was too distraught to drive, so she came over to the hospital for her to see if he was there. The hospital told her he was not. My niece’s boyfriend’s roommates were there with us. She said she knew her nephew was in the building and ask the boys if they knew him, but they did not. We started trying to help her find her nephew. I ask the boys what class was Drew in when the shooting happened. She then asked her sister if she knew if her nephew even took that class. The sister did not know. I told her that I knew they had taken the shooting victims to CMC University first, that maybe she should call there. My husband offered to call for her. After about 45 mins, she said she was going to go. My husband and I have been so heavy hearted as we think her nephew was Reed. We wish we could have spent more time with her trying to help and console her. I knew I should have gotten her name and number to check on her later, but under the circumstances I was not thinking clearly. We would like to reach out to her. Could you please tell Reed’s aunt how sorry we are and we have been praying for her and her family since meeting her that night.

    • Jennifer on Monday, June 3, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      To Tina, thank you so much for your kindness that night, it meant so much, prayers for Drew’s continued recovery, Reed’s Aunt

  20. Jorge on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Tracie – that was so beautifully written.

    You can fail the pain and tears in your words. The sorrow….there really are no words to describe. My heart and prayers go out to you, UNCC Nation and especially to the families effected by this senseless tragedy.

    Having lost my 14 year old son 20 months ago to Suicide, i can relate to the terrible ache and destructive hole in your hearts that is felt. I agree….there are no words. However, I can tell you it does get “better”. Yes, through God’s love – (which is so hard to imagine sometimes when you think about why such evil exists.

    I too felt broken, but with God’s help, love and strength, HE will heal. While it doesn’t ever “go away”, it does get better…a tiny bit each day. Grief is so different for everyone and the time will vary…but hold strong, keep blogging and showing the strength to others as you do. I know that Reed’s family appreciates you, your love and support. By helping others, you will be helping yourself heal as well.

    Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. I can tell you – that is exactly true.

  21. Amanda Sailer on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Very well written. I am sure the family is very thankful for a friend like you during this difficult time.

    I have no words that would or could take any of their pain away. I can only say that I pray for them daily. My daughter is a friend of Mallory’s and when she heard the news her immediate response was “I need to check on Mallory.”

    I pray that God will reveal His message and plan to this family and that they will be able to see it when He does. I pray that with every day they can become stronger as a family and that some way they will see something amazing come from this.

  22. Leslie Toggweiler on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Reed and his family have been and will continue to be in our prayers. Thank you for writing about him. It is an honor to learn about what a special young man he was. We all will remember him and carry him in our hearts.

  23. Cynthia Hinson on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 12:21 am

    My son was a classmate of Reed’s at CATA and had several IT classes with him. I think of him and his family every day when I go to work at the very same school. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I really want we educators to figure out a way to keep this from ever happening again!

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Tracie Miles is a bestselling author and the Director of COMPEL Training with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  She helps women grow stronger in their faith, pursue the life of purpose God designed them for and live a life of peace, joy and happiness despite their circumstances.


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