Stolen gun used in deadly Butler HS shooting
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The gun a student used to fatally shoot another student at Butler High School in Matthews Monday morning was stolen out of Gaston County, officials say.
Jatwan Cuffie, 16 and a 9th grader, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen, a 10th grader. On Tuesday, a judge stated that he will not consider bond for Cuffie at this time.
Officials say the deadly shooting at Butler High School stemmed from bullying.
Tuesday, Matthews police said the gun used in the shooting was stolen out of Gaston County in August. They said they are unsure who stole the gun. Autopsy results revealed McKeithen was shot one time in the torso, police said.
The shooting happened around 7:15 a.m. in a hallway near the cafeteria inside the school. Police said a School Resource Officer was nearby when he heard a commotion and saw students running away.
McKeithen died after he was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center.
A felony affidavit released Wednesday details what Cuffie said happened prior to and during the deadly encounter. Cuffie said he was in an altercation with several others Friday in the Harris Teeter parking lot on Margaret Wallace and Idlewild Road.
Within seconds after the shooting, the SRO immediately ordered a lockdown and students were told to shelter in place. The SRO then notified police over a police radio and two other SRO’s moved into the school.
About five minutes after the shooting, a teacher alerted officers that she was with Cuffie, and that he admitted to the shooting and he was ready to surrender, officials said during a press conference Monday afternoon.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said the shooting stemmed from bullying that “escalated out of control.”
“As fear took over, a young person brought a gun to solve the problems,” Wilcox said in a press conference.
Police did not give any further information about the alleged conflict between the two students.
WBTV spoke to students at the school who described a fight between McKeithen and Cuffie that led up to the shooting.
“We heard a bang and we seen them starting to fight," said Butler high school senior, Lester Henline. "All of the sudden he pulled out a pistol and everybody started running.”
Butler High School freshman, Joshua Cherry, sent WBTV a video showing the moment students were allowed to leave the school.
“A kid was shot," said Cherry on the video. "Kids are crying. It’s a mess.”
Wilcox said Monday was a “sad and troubling day for all of us in this community.”
“We lost a young person in our community, and nothing could be worse than that,” Wilcox said. “Healing will take time, and it will take a community that deals in facts - not rumor and innuendo.”
The superintendent added that the school principal “was a rock” during the incident and that students “conducted themselves in a manner many adults could learn from.”
Less than 12 hours after McKeithen was shot and killed by a classmate, hundreds gathered around a flag in front of the school. The flag was at half-staff.
School officials lifted the lockdown nearly two hours after the shooting took place so students could be reunited with parents who gathered outside the school.
CMS released a statement at noon advising counseling is available to any student or staff member who wishes to speak to someone about the fatal shooting.
Our hearts are with the family, loved ones, friends and everyone affected by the tragedy which occurred this morning at Butler High School. Counseling is available to any student or staff who wishes to speak to someone. The Butler High School community and CMS appreciates the support of the entire community during this difficult time. CMS will provide updates throughout today, as warranted.
Anthony Johnson, who has a 10th grader at Butler High School, told WBTV it was chaos as he approached the school to pick up his daughter.
“You could see it in the kids eyes when they came out of the building,” said Johnson. "A lot of them were crying.”
Christina Sawyer, who’s two daughter’s attend Butler High School, told WBTV’s Molly Grantham that her daughter was texting her from inside the school after the shooting happened.
“She said there was just an argument and that the argument turned into him brandishing a gun," said Sawyer. “She was right by that area where it happened... She didn’t know what to do. She was scared so she ran.”
“She’s still really shaken and upset and sort of confused as to why they did not evacuate the school. Why they forced them to stay."
In a statement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, families arriving on the scene were instructed to pick up their students at the entrance of Butler High.
The lockdown at Butler High School has been lifted by law enforcement. The campus has been secured by law enforcement, no immediate danger exists and an investigation continues. Butler families may now pick students up from the entrance of the Butler HS campus only. Families arriving to pick up students will be directed by law enforcement officers to the entrance of the campus. Students will be escorted from the building to the entrance to meet families. Please exercise patience to ensure everyone’s safety and we appreciate your cooperation. Classes will proceed on campus today for students remaining on campus.
According to CMS, Butler will be closed on Tuesday. Wednesday was already a scheduled day off. The district released a detailed list of statements, plans, and resources for anyone affected by the incident.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson released a statement expressing his concern for those affected by the shooting.
“I am heartbroken to hear that we have lost a student to school violence in one of our schools. We have contacted Charlotte-Mecklenburg authorities and will assist in any way we can, but of course our first thoughts are for the parents and other loved ones of the student who passed away. The safety of our students is paramount. This is a sad day for all of North Carolina, and we must work together as a community to address these problems.”
Matthews Mayor Paul Bailey released a statement about the shooting just before 1 p.m.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events at Butler High School this morning. I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of this young man, and to everyone affected at Butler High School. Our hearts are with you, and the community stands behind you. This is a very sad day here in Matthews.”
Other NC leaders, such as Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and Congresswoman Alma Adams also sent out statements and prayers on Twitter.
Governor Roy Cooper said he was “heartbroken” to hear the news in Matthews.
I am heartbroken to hear about today’s school violence that has taken the life of a high school student in Matthews, and my family is praying for this community. I have been in touch with local officials to offer condolences and state support as needed. As we get more information it is critical that we come together to do everything in our power to prevent these incidents from happening and keep guns out of our schools.
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