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Suspension upheld for Princeton teen who brought guns to school

Posted May 14, 2013

— A Johnston County teen who was suspended after he inadvertently left two unloaded shotguns in his car at school has lost his appeal and will graduate from an alternative school, his attorney said Tuesday.

A hearing officer upheld Superintendent Ed Croom’s recommendation that David Cole Withrow, 18, receive a long-term suspension from Princeton High School, where he was a senior. The recommendation is not an expulsion and allows Withrow to finish his education at an alternative school, according to a spokeswoman for Johnston County Schools.

Withrow’s attorney said in a statement to the media that the teen will not pursue further action.

In the statement, the attorney from Hewitt & Wood said Withrow wanted to thank Croom for allowing him to complete his studies and to apologize for “all the stress and negative attention this matter has brought.”

“Although we may not agree with the North Carolina school laws regarding this situation and the corresponding policies of the Johnston County School system, after careful review, we do believe they have been followed in this case,” the attorney said in the statement.

Withrow is scheduled for a May 16 court appearance on a felony charge of bringing a weapon onto school grounds April 29.

He has said he left the shotguns in his car after a weekend of skeet shooting and did not mean to bring them to school. Withrow tried to get permission from administrators to take them home but was suspended.

The story of his arrest and subsequent suspension garnered national media attention as classmates rallied and “Free Cole” T-shirts were made. Withrow was offered a scholarship offer from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and from Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

In the statement, the attorney said Withrow and his family harbor no bad feelings toward the school system and ask their supporters to feel the same.

“Cole is a Christian and an Eagle Scout and does not endorse or support any of the negative comments and requests that it please end now,” the attorney said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • LastSon1981 May 16, 2013

    But-but-but-but he's an eagle scout

  • scarlett2 May 16, 2013

    This incident just teaches kids to lie. If you tell the truth, you get in trouble. He should be allowed to graduate with his class. Your high school graduation is a memory that lasts a lifetime.
    If an asst. principal brought a gun on campus and was only suspended 2 days, that is grossly unfair. People in authority make their own rules.

  • rroadrunner99 May 15, 2013

    I'd love to hear the reasoning as to WHY the teacher wasn't charged,an excuse is no reason to NOT be charged. It didn't stop the student from being charged so why should it have stopped the teacher from being charged?

  • josephlawrence43 May 15, 2013

    What would be "fair" here?? To fire the assistant principal who "accidentally" brought a weapon on campus and who received only a suspension for 2 days. Anything less is simply administrative arrogance and demonstrates once again the double standard found in nearly all of our schools.

  • Dnut May 15, 2013

    Why was he offered scholarships?? Seems to me he's not bright enough to remember to follow the rules, so why would they think he would be a deserving scholar?
    May 15, 2013 3:11 p.m.
    >>>>This kid was/is a regular shooter, no more than a police officer forgetting and letting his sidearm in the car. But he caught it, because he just happen to forget, you call him something degrading? That's not nice...

  • tayled May 15, 2013

    Why was he offered scholarships?? Seems to me he's not bright enough to remember to follow the rules, so why would they think he would be a deserving scholar

    Do you know his academic record? Didn't think so. Do any of us follow the rules 100% of the time?

  • Dnut May 15, 2013

    Where are all the "tough on crime" Republicans now??? -----the same place "let 'em off easy" Democrates are.....:)-samdutes
    Seems like this is the perfect time to test your “zero tolerance” polices and “enforce existing laws” stance. Wait…you don’t really want either but they sound nice.
    Black HelicoptersNFood Insurance
    May 15, 2013 3:00 p.m.
    >>>The spirit of zero tolerance in LAW is when actual crimes are being committed NOT, when mistakes are made, there is a difference, was he in the wrong, technically yes, and he is paying for it, so maybe you should get your facts right. Zero tolerance is made for crimes, not mistakes, and the law should be written for such.

  • Dnut May 15, 2013

    This young man is the perfect example of a real Christian. It doesn't matter what people do to him, he has passed the real test with flying colors.
    You mean by excepting that what he did was wrong and taking his punishment or hiring lawyers and trying to fight when he clearly broke a rule. Rather he told on himself or not he still broke it.1981
    May 15, 2013 2:30 p.m.
    >>>Being wrong with deliberate intent and making a mistake an owning up to it are two different things, and I'm not sure what you are trying to say, but being a Christian doesn't mean that you CAN'T defend yourself, when you've made a mistake, owned up to it, and attempted to correct it. Especially when no one was hurt or harmed.

  • sbr1963 May 15, 2013

    This is ridiculous. The kid tries to do the right thing and is suspended. No wonder our education system stinks. It does not pay to be honest is the message that is being sent. I am sure there are plenty of students in that school who have done far worse and only received a slap on the wrist! I wish this young man good luck in his future.

  • tayled May 15, 2013

    Every senior at Princeton should boycott the graduation in protest.