Honor student expelled for unloaded shotgun accidentally left in truck

Cole Withrow 2
Cole Withrow with his sister. Photo credit: Fox News Radio

An honor student and Eagle Scout in Princeton, N.C. is facing stiff penalties for a lapse in memory. David “Cole” Withrow is a high school senior who went skeet shooting over the weekend, and forgot to take his gun out of his truck before going to school. Now he may not graduate.

When Withrow arrived at school on Monday, he noticed the gun and went into the school office to call his mother to get permission to leave, and bring the gun home. A school official overheard his conversation, but after Withrow tried to explain what happened, he was arrested and expelled.

Withrow has received an outpouring of support as his classmates, and the community, have come to his defense.

“He’s been taught when you’re in trouble, you call your parent, and that’s what he did. And now he’s being punished for what I consider doing the right thing,” family friend Kim Boykin told ABC 11 News.

Cole’s classmates have set up a Facebook page, and have painted “Free Cole” on their cars — the phrase going viral on social media.

Free Cole tweet

But Johnston County Schools are standing by their decision to expel Withrow according to this statement:

“A student brought an unloaded shotgun on campus.  The shotgun was located in a locked vehicle.  Administration reacted promptly and the proper procedures and protocol were followed. The law is very clear when a person knowingly and willingly brings a weapon onto educational property,” Johnston County Schools spokesperson Tracey Peedin Jones said.

In the course of the investigation, it was found that the school’s assistant principal two years ago accidentally brought a loaded gun to school in her car. While she was only suspended for three days, some are wondering how a senior can be expelled with just a few weeks left to finish the school year.

Watch the ABC 11 News report here.


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