PRINCETON, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) - A local high school student was expelled from Princeton High School and is facing felony charges after leaving an unloaded shotgun in his car, which he had parked in the school’s lot.
The student, 16-year-old David Cole Winthrow, reportedly left the gun in his car on Monday after going skeet shooting over the weekend, WRAL is reporting.
Upon realizing his error, David attempted to rectify the situation by notifying school officials of his mistake and asking for permission to leave school so he could take the gun home.
Instead of allowing him to do so, administrators told the police about the weapon, resulting in both his expulsion and arrest, the station learned. He was subsequently charged with bringing a weapon on educational property, which is a reportedly a felony.
Kim Boykin, a family friend of David’s, told WRAL that he was an honors student and an Eagle Scout.
“To have him arrested and expelled from school is excessive,” she added. “He locks his vehicle, goes inside and tries to do the right thing.”
Others at the school have joined Kim in publicly supporting the student – especially in light of the fact that both an assistant principal and a school resource officer of the school were merely suspended for doing the same thing two years ago – by painting the words “Free Cole” on their cars.
Local establishments, including Express Signs, are also getting in on the movement. Joeseph Canzaniello, who works at the printing business that reportedly ran off bumper stickers reading “Free Cole for Doing the Right Thing,” said he believes David “did the right thing by being truthful and being honest.”
He added, “”His integrity will be held intact no matter what happens to him.”
However, local authorities claim they are simply doing their jobs.
“Please know that with student and personnel issues, we carefully balance all factors to arrive at a fair and just outcome,” Johnston County schools spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones said in a statement obtained by the station Wednesday. “Certain items are mandated and we have no choice but to follow the law.”