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Firearm Used In Deadly Shooting At Butler High School Was Stolen

Public Defender Joel Adelman talks about Jatwan Cuffie's case.
Cole del Charco

Updated: 3:40 p.m.

The firearm used at a deadly shooting at Butler High School Monday was stolen from a car in Gaston County, according to the Matthews Police Department.

Police say it's unclear whether the alleged shooter, 16-year-old Jatwan Cuffie, was the person who stole the firearm. The investigation into the stolen weapon is ongoing.

Cuffie has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen. He appeared in court today. His public defender requested for bond to be set at $10,000 and for the teenager to wear an ankle monitor, but was denied.

Cuffie's bond hearing will be on Nov. 7. He has a probable cause hearing Nov. 19. His lawyer at the moment, public defender Joel Adelman, spoke to the potential that Cuffie was bullied, which sparked the fatal confrontation at the high school.

"It’s already out there that there were threats to him and that there were, there was an issue of bullying," Adelman said. "I know that some folks didn’t want to suggest which direction the bullying was going, but I think there are also reports out there already that he was the recipient of bullying."

The family of the boy who was shot and killed told reporters in a news conference that he didn’t deserve to die.

Credit WCNC
Mother of Bobby McKeithen Ashley Mewborn speaks to the media Tuesday morning.

“I sent him to school as I was told to do, and he never came home,” said Bobby’s mother Ashley Mewborn Tuesday morning. “That should never happen.”

She spoke clearly and full of conviction, painting a picture of who her son Bobby was.

“As he was, a sweet, caring, compassionate young man that would have succeeded if he’d had the chance,” she said. “He loved sports. He liked to dance.

“No matter what kind of person he was, that you choose to believe he was, he still did not deserve to be shot and killed at school,” Mewborn said. “That’s just the bottom line.”

Credit Shanika Brimmer / GoFundMe
16-year-old Bobby McKeithen.

She explained the confusing process of hearing that her son was shot. Mewborn said she called the school and called the police, only to find out from other students that her son had been shot. She said in the midst of searching for information, she didn’t get to see her son before he died.

“At the time, I’m trying to get into the school, I could’ve been with him at the hospital,” Mewborn said. “I feel like I could have seen him at least one last time.”

His father, also named Bobby McKeithen, said the school could have done more to keep the fight from escalating. McKeithen said he wished he’d known of warning signs that there’d been tension between his son and the Cuffie. 

“You know, they tell us that our son has passed, but didn’t tell us that the situation was brewing,” McKeithen said. “It’s been said that [the school] dropped the ball. .... If that’s the case, we have counselors in place. Pull the students aside and let's talk about it and see if we can [mediate] this problem before it escalates”

“We just feel like there needs to be more alertness,” he said.

Bobby McKeithen, the victim, was shot around 7:15 Monday morning after a fight that broke out between him and Cuffie. 

CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said the shooting was a result of bullying.

“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,” Wilcox said in a news conference Monday afternoon.

Matthews police are not releasing detail about the bullying, the shooting or how Cuffie managed to obtain a gun and bring it to school. Matthews Police Capt. Stason Tyrell said Monday that they are in the early stages of the investigation and could not release detailed information at this time.

But McKeithen’s family says that Bobby wasn’t a bully.

“Countless friends and teachers have spoken out and said that is not, nor has he ever been known as a bully,” Mario Black said in a statement on behalf of the family. “Bobby was truly a light in our lives. He was a loving brother to his siblings, a child whose smile would make anyone smile.”

Credit WCNC
Bobby McKeithen, father of the late Bobby McKeithen who was shot by another student Monday morning, addresses the media Tuesday morning.

Bobby McKeithen's father said he doesn’t “have hatred or ill-will toward” Cuffie or his family.

“I have remorse for the family that the shooting was done by,” he said. “Think about it, they’re losing a child as well — to the system.”

He said the tragic shooting points to a larger issue: guns in schools.

“At the end of the day, we have to get to the point that as a community, as a state, as a nation, what do we do to address this gun problem and save our children?” McKeithen said.

“Nobody wants to talk about it until this happens,” he added. “Now, America’s grieving.”

Friends of the McKeithen family have started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Bobby’s funeral costs.

The GoFundMe campaign was started by Shanika Brimmer on behalf of the McKeithen-Mewborn families.

“We are asking that family, extended family and friends please consider making a donation of any dollar amount to lighten this unexpected burden of laying her son to rest,” Brimmer wrote.

Donors are leaving comments of condolences on the site. Some don’t seem to know the family personally.

“I donated because I am a mom and my heart breaks for his mom,” Daniall Foskey wrote after she donated.

Others said they had interacted with Bobby and his family throughout his life.

“Bobby was a former student of mine at Piney Grove and a friend of my son, Harrison Gates,” Dawn Query-Sonoski wrote. “This is truly a heartbreaking tragedy.”

The campaign has raised $2,856 of its $15,000 goal. As of noon Tuesday, there have been 93 donations made.

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.
Cole del Charco is a journalist, writer and radio producer from Hickory, North Carolina.