16-year-old accused of gunning down classmate after bullying ‘escalated out of control’ makes 1st court appearance

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iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE) --  A 16-year-old boy accused of gunning down his classmate in their North Carolina high school made his first appearance in court Tuesday.

Ninth-grader Jatwan Cuffie, 16, allegedly shot and killed tenth-grader Bobby Mckeithen, 16, at Butler High School Monday morning after a bullying conflict "escalated out of control," officials said.

Cuffie was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder, officials said.

In court Tuesday afternoon, Cuffie's attorney said the teen has no prior convictions, The Charlotte Observer reported. The lawyer asked for Cuffie to be allowed to stay with his mother with electronic monitoring, but the judge denied the request, the newspaper said.

Cuffie did not speak during the brief appearance and is due to return to court on Nov. 7, the newspaper reported.

The Monday shooting at the school in Matthews, about 12 miles outside of Charlotte, was "an isolated incident," according to the Matthews Police Department.

When the gunfire broke out, students understood what to do and barricaded themselves in classrooms, Clayton Wilcox superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, said at a news conference.

School resumed after a brief lockdown, but parents were told they could pick up their children if they wished. Emotional photos showed parents reuniting with students after the terrifying morning.  

"Our hearts are with the family, loved ones, friends and everyone affected," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said in a statement. "Counseling is available to any student or staff member who wishes to speak to someone."

The school is closed Tuesday, officials said.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson said he was "heartbroken to hear that we have lost a student to school violence."

"We have contacted Charlotte-Mecklenburg authorities and will assist in any way we can, but of course our first thoughts are for the parents and other loved ones of the student who passed away," Johnson said. "The safety of our students is paramount. This is a sad day for all of North Carolina, and we must work together as a community to address these problems."

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