A North Carolina high school freshman was charged with first-degree murder after he fatally shot a fellow student, police said Monday.
The shooting in the hallway of Butler High School in Matthews stemmed from a fight between the victim and the suspect, said Matthews Police Capt. Stason Tyrrell. Initial reports indicate that the conflict started with bullying that spiraled out of control, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.
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"And as fear took over, a young person bought a gun to solve the problems," Wilcox said.
Tyrrell identified the victim as a 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen, a sophomore. The suspect, Jatwan Craig Cuffie, also 16, is in the Mecklenburg County jail, he said.
The shooting happened just before the final bell rang for students to go into their classrooms, according to Tyrrell.
He said a school resource officer was in the cafeteria area when he and school security officers heard a commotion in an adjoining hallway at 7:14 a.m. They ran to the hallway and started giving the victim first aid within 15 to 20 seconds, Tyrrell said.
The school immediately went into a lockdown, Tyrrell said.
Two other police officers, including a school resource officer directing traffic in front of the school, entered the school within minutes, according to Tyrrell.
About five to seven minutes after the shooting, authorities learned from a teacher that she was with the suspected shooter, Tyrrell said. The suspect admitted to the shooting and, around 7:25 a.m., said he wanted to surrender, Tyrrell said.
No one else was injured in the shooting.
"This event actually began days before this morning. So what took place this morning was something that built up," Tyrrell said.
He said several people knew there was a chance of an altercation on Monday morning.
"And we just didn't have that information until after it had happened," he said.
Wilcox said the schools don't have metal detectors and students aren't searched when they enter the building.
"Some have asked me, how could someone, especially a student, come on to one of our campus(es) with a loaded gun," Wilcox said. "And I wish I had an answer to that. There really is no easy answer."
The superintendent said the school will be closed on Tuesday.
Matthews is located about 22 miles southeast of Charlotte.