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Police shed light on Butler High School shooting

A shooting at Butler High School in Matthews this morning left one student dead and the other charged with first-degree murder. Police said the victim was 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen, a tenth-grader at Butler. The suspected shooter’s name is Jatwan Cuffie, also 16 and a ninth-grader at the school, said Captain Stason Tyrrell with Matthews Police Department. Cuffie is being held at the Mecklenburg County Jail.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said students will return to school Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday is a scheduled voluntary teacher workday. 

“We’re going to give our teachers an opportunity to process what they’ve been through,” Wilcox said during a press conference. “We’re going to give our students an opportunity to stay at home with family and loved ones and come to grips with what took place today.”
Wilcox said the event was isolated between two students and that bullying was involved. 
“First reports indicate that the conflict began with bullying that escalated out of control and, as fear took over, a young person brought a gun to solve the problem,” he said.
Captain Tyrrell said some individuals knew an altercation was likely to take place Monday morning but not that a shooting would occur. He said school officials and law enforcement did not have that information until after the incident. He did not clarify who was bullying or being bullied.
Police are still investigating how the student got the gun, Tyrrell said. He said the event took place in a hallway connected to the cafeteria, where the school resource officer was when he heard commotion. Tyrrell said it took the officer 15 to 20 seconds to get to the victim and that he immediately sent the school into lockdown. He said, within five to seven minutes, a teacher notified officers she was with the shooter, who peacefully surrendered to police.
Wilcox said the decision to keep class in session after the incident was one he would make again. He said communication with parents could have been more effective but that it is difficult to get in front of students’ social media posts.

CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox speaks at a press conference on the Butler High School shooting. Liz Bell/EducationNC

“I want to clarify that our decision to keep students on campus and in class was motivated by one goal, and that’s to keep students safe until transportation could be arranged with their families,” Wilcox said.
He said district leaders are meeting this week and will be creating a plan to ensure schools and students are safe. 
“We’ll begin to take a look at just every aspect of our security plans and how we treat kids each and every day in school that might have contributed to some of this,” he said. “It’s a long road ahead…”
Wilcox encouraged anyone with information to reach out to the Matthews Police Department or reach out through CMS’s website. He said there is no clear answer to how a loaded gun arrived on campus. 

“We do not have metal detectors in our schools,” he said. “We do not search our students on the way into school. Our schools and students rely on coordination between and among each other. And today, that simply wasn’t enough.”
Grief counselors are available to students and teachers impacted, Wilcox said. He wants to make sure teachers know how to answer kids’ questions when they come back to school. 
“This is going to take some time,” he said. “Healing from trauma requires patience, support, and a community that cares and deals in facts and not rumors and innuendo.”

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.