Butler HS student accused of fatally shooting classmate bonds out

$100,000 bond set for teen accused of killing classmate at school

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Jatwan Cuffie, the 16-year-old student accused of fatally shooting a classmate at Butler High School, bonded out of jail Thursday night. Cuffie appeared in court Thursday morning for a bond hearing.

The teenager was in jail for 87 days.

During the bond hearing, Assistant District Attorney Desmond McCallum told the judge that Cuffie’s actions in the school hallway back in October were “intentional and reckless” and" that the defendant by his actions created a great risk of harm to others when he intentionally discharged the gun in the hallway."

Prosecutors say a weekend fight between teenagers spilled over into school. Early one Monday morning in October as the teens were in the hallway getting ready to start their day – cameras were rolling as Bobby McKeithan punched Cuffie.

Cuffie told police he reached for a gun he brought to school.

ADA McCallum said that during an interview with police Cuffie "admitted to intentionally shooting the victim. He told the detective that he quote ‘tried to hit him in the leg’. He also told the detective that quote ‘he didn’t want to hit anywhere else that he shot him once after he punched me.’ ”

McKiethan died later at a hospital.

Police say Cuffie told them the fight was about text messages.

“He also stated in this interview when asked that he had no issues with Bobby before this. There were no complaints of any bullying or harassment before this” said McCallum.

The District Attorney’s Office believes Cuffie put other students' lives in danger when he fired that shot.

“Given those facts. Given the strength of the case and given the nature and circumstances of the case the state believes a bond of $500,000 would be appropriate in this matter” McCallum said.

“Your honor this isn’t a Columbine instance. He’s not a mass school shooter. He’s a 16 year old boy” said attorney Michael Greene.

The defense says the teenager was afraid when he went to school that Monday because the fight over weekend involved a knife.

“And he was also told that this was gonna happen again and again so they say there’s no bullying we say check the video,” Attorney Greene said.

Cuffie’s attorneys told the judge that the 16-year-old should get a reasonable bond because he’s not a danger to society, not a flight risk and has strong support from the crowd that packed the courtroom.

“You saw neighbors. You saw friends. You saw families,” said Greene. “Attorney Roberts and I know him as a person who would go next door and wheel down his elderly neighbor’s trash. Somebody who would cut their grass. Somebody would talk to anybody. Not a guy who is gonna go and shoot up a school.”

The judge said he had concerns.

“My concern is if he gets out is his safety quite honestly given what I understand to be the tenor of these days and times."

The defense says there hasn’t been any specific threats against Cuffie. They say he won’t be going back to Butler High School.

“While those considerations are very very valid, he has been in custody for 87 days now without a bond and your honor I believe that a bond far lower than $500,000 bond that the state is proposing would be appropriate,” Greene told the court.. "We would be suggesting somewhere in the $75,000-to-$100,000 for a bond

In the end the judge set the bond at $100,000. After bonding out around 9:17 p.m. Thursday, Cuffie was placed on 24-hour house arrest with electronic monitoring.

A judge previously denied Cuffie bond in late October and said they would visit the topic at a later date.

RELATED: Student accused of killing classmate at Butler HS appears in court

Cuffie is accused of fatally shooting 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen in a hallway near the cafeteria around 7:15 a.m. after a dispute between the two boys days before the incident. Officials say about five minutes after the shooting, a teacher alerted officers that she was with Cuffie, and that he admitted to the shooting and was ready to surrender.

The suspected shooter was originally charged with first-degree murder of 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen. A District Attorney later lessened his charges to second-degree murder.

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