High school shooting that left student dead was sparked by bullying that ‘escalated out of control’, officials say

Monday’s shooting at a North Carolina high school that left a 16-year-old dead and another in custody stemmed from ongoing bullying, officials said.

Police have identified ninth-grader Jatwan Craig Cuffie as the shooter who opened fire in the hallway of Butler High School, killing Bobby McKeithen. He’s been charged as an adult with first-degree murder for the sophomore’s death, according to The Charlotte Observer and Associated Press.

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said the 7 a.m. shooting was the culmination of bullying that led Cuffie to bring a gun to school and shoot McKeithen. While he wouldn’t expound on what the bullying entailed, Wilcox said investigators found no evidence that the pair “had anything in common in terms of a beef that went on…at school.”

A school resource officer who was on campus reportedly apprehended Cuffie shortly after the shooting. Reports indicated that surveillance cameras in the hallway caught the fight and subsequent shooting. Matthews Police Captain Stason Tyrrell confirmed to The Observer that the fight started in a hallway near the cafeteria and that other students “witnessed the tragedy” as it unfolded.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Butler High School was placed on lockdown for two hours after the fatal altercation. While students were given the option to stay on campus Monday, Fox News reported that the high school and extracurricular activities were canceled Tuesday.

The type of gun used in Tuesday’s shooting and how the freshman allegedly acquired it remains unclear.

“Someone asked me how could someone, especially a student, come onto one of our campuses with a loaded gun, and I wish I had an answer to that,” the superintendent said. “There really is no easy answer. We do not have metal detectors in our schools. We do not search our students on the way into school. Our schools and students rely on cooperation between and among each other. And today, that simply wasn’t enough.”


[Featured image: Jatwan Craig Cuffie/Mecklenburg County Jail]