MATTHEWS, NC (WBTV) - Students and staff returned to Butler High School Thursday Nov. 1, days after one student was fatally shot in the school’s hallway.
Sixteen-year-old Bobby McKeithen was shot around 7:15 a.m. Monday in a hallway near the cafeteria inside the school. Jatwan Cuffie, 16 and a 9th grader, is charged with murder in the shooting.
CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox and Matthews Police Chief Clark Pennington spoke Thursday as classes resumed. Wilcox encouraged students, staff and the community that if you “see something, say something.”
On Friday, Wilcox again spoke out for the school’s students and parents, sending out a video with a message of support for everyone affected by the shooting.
A big part of the investigation is how the accused student brought a gun into the school without detection, Pennington said.
CMS says officials will continue to support students and staff as they return.
Counselors will be available and there will be additional security on the campus.
“This is a very trying a tough time for students so we’re just here to support that,” Pennington said.
Some Butler High School students said they weren’t ready to go back to school on Thursday. They say they may not return until Monday.
Wednesday, teachers painted the school rock with the message: “We Are Butler Strong” and on the back of the rock: “Your Teachers Love You.”
Students also showed up Wednesday to create signs for their classmates when they return. The signs will be posted all over the school. Senior Kiriam El Tannir showed up to help.
"Butler Strong," El Tannir read from one of the signs. "We are Butler, Butler Family."
El Tannir believes the signs will make a difference and students will appreciate them.
"We need to like embrace that we are a family after everything that has happened," he said.
Other CMS students are speaking out. After the shooting, the group Generation Nation sent out a post on social media asking students to give input on what more needs to happen to keep students safe while in school.
"It's students' lives that are being at risk," Generation Nation leader and CMS student Righteous Keitt said. "Our lives are being at risk and if anybody should give their input... it should be students."
Keitt says students are demanding metal detectors in schools to help keep them safe. In about two weeks the group will present their recommendations to school leaders, city council members and other politicians. Keitt hopes this input will inspire people who can to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.
"If we want to make a difference, if you want to strip the laws that allow for people to get shot and killed for years and years and years repeatedly - then we have to vote," Keitt said.
While the Superintendent is reviewing security plans for all schools, he has ideas on beefing up security after Monday's fatal school shooting.
“We’ll probably look at wands,” Wilcox said. “And we’ll look at random searches of kids. We’ll look at perhaps the idea of only saying you can only use a clear backpacks.”
Officials say mid-term exams have been rescheduled and brief assemblies have been planned to support and offer resources to students and staff.
CMS wants to ensure that they allow the Butler High School community to support each other as they return.
The Matthews Police Department says there will be an increased police presence at all Matthews schools in the wake of Monday’s tragedy.
“It is important for Butler parents, students and staff to know that we are using all available means to ensure their safety. We also want the Butler community to know we are grieving with you and we will do our part to ensure a smooth transition back into school and allow you to continue with the healing process,” Pennington said.
Pennington remained on campus Thursday morning to greet students and staff as they returned to school.
On Friday, CMS released a list of ways for those affected to seek out help, including:
- Any student or family member can reach out to any school staff member directly. Counselors are available on CMS campuses.
- CMS staff members can access LifeCare employee assistance.
- Additional free supports include:
- The Mecklenburg County 24-hour Crisis Line (FREE) 1-800-939-5911
- Mobile Crisis 704-566-3410 Option 1 – this is also a FREE service that will come to your location
- More information and resources are available on the CMS website.