When I first posted about the shooting at Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina, I wondered where 16-year-old Jatwan Cuffie got the gun he used to kill Bobby McKeithen. Well, while it hasn’t been made public yet exactly where he got the gun it has been made public where it first emerged. The .380 pistol was stolen out of a car in neighboring Gaston County. Another responsible gun owner. Guns are plentiful in Gaston County as it is the redneck cousin of Matthews’ Mecklenburg County.
On the day of the shooting, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools decided to keep classes in session after the shooting occurred. A CMS spokesperson said that the decision was made “to provide students with a safe place to stay until their families could come get them.” On paper that sounds reasonable but then again, I’m not a parent who had a child at Butler High that day. How to react to a shooting inside a school is not an exact science and in a perfect world, it never should be.
Cuffie has been charged as an adult and has been ordered held without bail. He is looking at a possible sentence of life without parole.
While the headlines decry that the shooting arose out of some kind of bullying escalation, unsurprisingly, I have my doubts. My first doubt comes from a video that was obtained by the Charlotte Observer that reportedly shows the gunman, Jatwan Cuffie, on the losing side of a fight. Here is the video as posted by The Observer.
While it appears that Cuffie got the crap kicked out of him he also appeared like he was a willing participant in the fight. Not only that but Bobby McKeithen was also in the video, in the blue hoodie, and he had no involvement in the fight outside of being a witness. Combine that with the texts that Cuffie sent to McKeithen after the fight really make me question any kind of bullying motive.
Cuffie told police he texted McKeithen, asking who he thought won the fight, and that McKeithen indicated the other person did, not Cuffie.
The 16-year-old then texted McKeithen back, saying he “only thought that because [McKeithen] was with the other guys.” Cuffie said McKeithen asked “who is going to check me about it” and Cuffie replied that he was.
Cuffie indicated that one of the men involved in the Harris Teeter altercation wanted to “get him at school.” He said he also got a text asking if he “had beef with [McKeithen] too,” and that he didn’t text back.
To me, it seems less like a bullying situation and more like a rivalry between two groups of Butler High Students to see who is more badass. This wasn’t because of bullying, this was a revenge killing since Cuffie had lost face in the fight. By most accounts, McKeithen was no bully. The real bully is the one who shoots an unarmed student. Remember, a gun is a coward’s weapon.
UPDATE: Just as I was about to hit the post button, I received an alert that says both police and CMS have now said that there was no bullying involved and the shooting arose from an ongoing dispute.