Teen charged in fatal high school shooting appears in court
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The teenager accused of fatally shooting a fellow student at a North Carolina high school appeared before a judge Tuesday as his public defender requested a low bond and permission for the boy to remain home with his mother while awaiting trial.
Jatwan Craig Cuffie, the ninth-grade student charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the death of Bobby McKeithen, 16, appeared in Mecklenburg County District Court.
Cuffie, 16, showed virtually no emotion as he listened to Judge David Strickland explain the charges he faces after the shooting a day earlier of Bobby McKeithan in a hallway of Butler High School in Matthews, a Charlotte suburb. Cuffie said nothing when the judge asked him if he had any words.
Public Defender Joel Adelman asked Strickland to set Cuffie’s bond at $10,000 and place him in the custody of his mother at their home, saying Cuffie poses no threat to the community. Adelman also proposed that the teen be placed under electric monitoring.
Strickland said the issue of the bond would be addressed at a bond hearing set for Nov. 7. Adelman then whispered into Cuffie’s right ear as the teen tilted his head downward to hear. Ultimately, Cuffie would rest his head on Adelman’s left shoulder.
The hearing lasted about 10 minutes and Currie was then was returned to jail, where he is currently being held without bond. Moments later, his family left the Mecklenburg County Courthouse without speaking to reporters.
“He’s their son. He’s their baby, he’s 16 years old,” Adelman said of the family. “And it’s difficult for them, as it would be for any parent.”
Prior to the hearing, McKeithen’s family said at a news conference that the 10th grader was a brother with “the biggest heart” who loved sports and dancing.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Monday that the shooting may have been related to bullying, but McKeithen’s family disputed the idea that McKeithen was a bully.
His mother, Ashley Mewborn, said she’s worried about her other children and wants the school system to do whatever it has to do to keep students safe.
Matthews Police Capt. Stason Tyrrell said a school resource officer was in the school cafeteria at 7:14 a.m. Monday when he and security officers heard a commotion and encountered students running in a nearby hallway. Tyrrell said the resource officer found the victim, tried to give aid and called for a school lockdown. Within minutes, a teacher notified school officials that she was with a student who was ready to surrender.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said the shooting appears to have stemmed from a case of bullying “that escalated out of control.” Neither Wilcox nor Tyrrell said which student was being bullied.
On Tuesday, news outlets reported Matthews police said Tuesday the gun used in the shooting was stolen from another county. A police spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking additional comment.
Matthews is a community about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from downtown Charlotte.