When David "Cole" Withrow, a senior at Princeton High School in Johnston, N.C., realized he left his shotgun in his truck, he called his mother from the front office of his school to come pick it up. His conversation was overheard and he was expelled and received a felony charge.
Cole is an Eagle Scout who did his senior class project on gun safety and was looking forward to college in the fall. Knowing full well what the repercussions of having a gun anywhere on campus were, he immediately wanted to resolve the issue. After debating between driving back home and being counted as tardy or calling his mom from school to collect the gun, he decided to call his mother. While making the call from the school's front office, Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes reports that the 18-year-old's conversation was overheard.
“He was overheard in a private conversation with his mother explaining what happened,” Kimberly Boykin, a friend of the Withrow family told Starnes. “He could have told a story, but he told the truth.”
“I think it’s an injustice for this young man,” she said. “He’s a good guy. He’s loved by his classmates and his teachers. You don’t become an Eagle Scout by being a bad seed.”
Withrow has been expelled for a year and will not be able to graduate with his class, potentially off-setting his plans for college in the fall. He also received a felony charge — something that at the age of 18 isn't going to go away. A charge like that has the potential to negatively impact Cole for his entire life.
"He didn't brandish it," Glenn pointed out. "He wasn't threatening anybody."
"Isn't this exactly, Glenn, what you've been talking about, about? How they are trying to create that overwhelming feeling when you're young that — it's not violence that's done with guns, it's just the gun itself that's awful?" Stu asked.
While this administration claims to be pushing for "common sense gun reforms," Glenn notes that they're abandoning common sense with gun regulation. This kid was trying to do the right thing and stay out of trouble.
"They hear the word "rifle" and they call the police," Stu added. "It's one of our guaranteed rights of the Constitution and they're calling the police because they hear the word."
"I think is you're exactly right: They are trying to make all of our kids afraid of guns and just give up," Pat said.
But now, because of the unbelievable overreaction, the kid has a record. In many states he'll now never be able to own a gun. They've labeled an honor student, Eagle Scout a criminal for making an attempt to do the right thing after realizing he had made an honest mistake.
WRAL was given this statement from the high school:
Johnston County schools spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones said the school system has to follow state law regarding weapons on campus.
“Please know that with student and personnel issues, we carefully balance all factors to arrive at a fair and just outcome,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “Certain items are mandated and we have no choice but to follow the law.”
Cole's classmates aren't so quick to give up. They're making their voice heard and gaining a lot of support around the country for Cole. In addition to students from Princeton High School rallying around Winthrow and petitioning the school board to let the senior graduate, a #FreeCole movement has begun to spread across Facebook and Twitter.
Ruin a young man's life for doing the right thing, they need to #FreeCole— Jezus Cicero (@jzcicero) May 2, 2013
Proof that intent and integrity are irrelevant when the government has an agenda. #freecole— Ashley Kintzel (@AshleyKintzel) May 2, 2013
Cole has been offered to graduate at an alternative school, not with his class. Unacceptable. The push to #FreeCole continues.— Spencer Hardison (@SpencerHardison) May 2, 2013
RIP Common Sense.
TheBlaze.com is reporting attorney for the Johnston Country School Board of Education, Jimmy Lawrence, is claiming Winthrow was not expelled, but that "provisions" have been made for him to continue education through the end of the year in order to receive his diploma.
WTVD elaborated that Winthrow will have the opportunity to attend an alternative school. It also noted Lawrence saying that according to North Carolina law and the Federal Gun Free Schools Act, Withrow’s violation would merit a 365-day suspension, but this brought up by the Johnston County School Board.
It is being reported that Liberty University is offerring Cole Withrow a scholarship.
Jerry Falwell, Jr., the chancellor of Liberty University, had been traveling through North Carolina and saw a local television news account of Withrow’s ordeal. He also noticed that the 18-year-old was wearing a “Liberty University” t-shirt.
Falwell told Fox News that he made a few calls and discovered that Withrow’s sister is a Liberty graduate.
“I was really impressed with what a meek and humble Christian kid he is,” Falwell said. “I thought he would be a perfect fit at Liberty.”
So the chancellor made the 18-year-old an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I told him that we would give him whatever scholarships he needed to attend Liberty University,” he said.
Falwell said the university is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the teenager gets a college education.
“The anti-gun zealots seem to be vilifying him for making an honest mistake,” he told Fox News. “We want to reward him for trying to do the right thing.”
And that means even helping the young man finish his last few weeks of high school. Falwell said they offered to let him finish his high school work through their online academy.
Liberty University, located in Lynchburg, Va., is the world’s largest Christian university with nearly 100,000 students. The chancellor said he’s been flooded with messages of support for Withrow from the Liberty community.
“It’s something our whole university feels good about,” he said.
For now Withrow, who had a spotless record, faces a precarious future. It’s unclear at this point how the pending criminal charges will be worked out.
Falwell called the boy’s predicament “disturbing and unsettling.”