Jatwan Craig Cuffie is accused of shooting a classmate dead in a hallway in Butler High School on the morning of October 29. Cuffie, 16, was named as the suspect in a press conference with officials a few hours after the shooting. Online records from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department show that Cuffie is being held in their jail, awaiting charges of first-degree murder. During the same press conference, Clayton Wilcox, the school superintendent, said that the shooting occurred in a hallway just after 7 a.m. after Cuffie and the victim had a disagreement. Cuffie is being charged as an adult in the case.
In 2014, Butler High School was named as the fifth highest rated high school in North Carolina, by U.S. News and Report. In 2018, the school’s graduation rate was over 91 percent. The school’s website says that there are 2123 students enrolled in the school.
1. Bullying Led to the Shooting, Officials Said
Officials told the media that the shooting was as a result of bullying. Matthews Police Captain Stason Tyrell told the media that bullying had “escalated out of control.” Though Tyrrell did not comment on how was the bully and who was the victim. Tyrrell said, “What took place this morning is something that built up.”
2. Cuffie Was Arrested Without Incident Inside of a Classroom in the School
Cuffie is in the ninth grade at Butler High School. The victim has been named as Bobby McKeithen, who was in the tenth grade. Officials said that within five minutes of the 911 call being made, a teacher said that she was with the suspect in her classroom. Cuffie was arrested at 7:21 a.m. WCNC’s Ariel Plasencia reports that the tension between the victim and the suspect had been building “over several days.” Plasencia adds that people knew the pair would have an altercation but “not that it was going to be a shooting.”
3. A Witness Said McKeithan Was Shot in the Back
McKeithen was named as the victim during a press conference with Captain Tyrrell. Tyrrell said that McKeithen was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center after the incident, where he was pronounced dead. Speaking to WSOC-TV, a witness to the shooting, Jorge Sanchez, said that, “As [McKeithan] was walking away, he was shot in the back. I just processed everything what’s going on, I saw the gun and I had to run.” Another witness, Lester Henline, a senior at Butler, told WBTV, “We heard a bank and we seen them starting to fight. All of the sudden he pulled out a pistol and everybody started running.”
Wilcox said there were many “young people who witnessed this tragedy… There were many kids in the hallways when this took place.” Wilcox called the incident “isolated” and said that it was over very shortly after it began. Wilcox also talked about school security, saying the officials didn’t know how the suspect got a gun on campus but said that all bags were searched going into the school. Investigators have said that it’s likely the shooting and the fight that preceded it were captured on the school’s surveillance video cameras. The mother of a student, Christina Sawyer, told WBTV, “She said there was just an argument and that the argument turned into him brandishing a gun. She was right by that area where it happened… She didn’t know what to do. She was scared so she ran.”
4. Bobby McKeithen’s Friends Have Been Paying Tribute to Him on Twitter
Some of Bobby McKeithen’s friends and other mourners have taken to Twitter to mourn his life. Here are some of the most poignant tributes to a life that was ended far too soon:
5. The Students Were Forced to Continue Classes at Butler After Bobby McKeithen Was Shot Dead in a School Hallway
In contrast to most school shootings that have occurred in the United States, classes were allowed to continue at Butler High after McKeithen was shot dead. The school’s lockdown ended at 9:15 a.m. One parent, Scott Simpson, told the Charlotte Observer, “They’re changing classes during an active crime scene.” Simpson also told the newspaper that he made his son, who is in the ninth grade, “sneak out a back door. He didn’t feel safe.” The Observer report adds that many parents descended on the school, demanding their children be allowed to leave. Scott Simpson’s other child, daughter Bella, who is in the 11th grade, left Butler to attend Commonwealth High. She said, “I left because of the bullying and the fights.”
Butler High School will close for students on October 30, a teacher work day is scheduled on October 31, students will return to school on November 1.