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Neighbor Calls 911 on Black Teen Practising ROTC Routine

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A Black teenager was left shaken after a neighbor called police on him while he was practicing an ROTC routine with a replica rifle.

Jathan Walthour, 16, recently joined the Air Force ROTC team at Sanderson High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He was practicing in his street on Tuesday when a neighbor called 911, his father Shawn Krest said.

“This afternoon, he got his dummy rifle to practice with,” Krest, a sports writer, tweeted. “He went outside (in our cul de sac) to practice with it. Within 10 minutes, the police pulled up.”

He went outside (in our cul de sac) to practice with it. Within 10 minutes, the police pulled up. Not sure who but one of our neighbors called them and the came right away (that’s a lie, I know exactly who it was) (2/?)

— Shawn Krest (@ShawnKrest) April 14, 2021

According to WRAL, the 911 caller told police there was “a man outside with a gun walking up and down our cul-de-sac.”

Walthour told the station that he had been marching down the street with the fake rifle on his shoulder when officers arrived at the scene.

He said he knew how to handle the situation thanks to training from a community program called Police Explorers.

“I placed the gun down on the ground and walked away from it,” he said. “And I kept my hands visible, away from my pockets and things because the officers recommend you keep your hands where the officers can see you.”

They suggested that maybe he could practice marching & drill in the back yard instead of the front yard (4/?)

— Shawn Krest (@ShawnKrest) April 14, 2021

But Walthour said he is aware the police encounter could have ended badly for him.

“I had definitely feared that I could have gotten killed that day, or even put in handcuffs,” he said.

In his Twitter thread, Krest said the officers were “not aggressive with him and saw right away that it was ‘a misunderstanding’ on the neighbor’s part.”

He continued: “They suggested that maybe he could practice marching & drill in the back yard instead of the front yard.

“Instead, I’ll be buying a lawn chair & patio table tomorrow morning & sit out in our driveway whenever he wants to practice, to make sure our neighbors don’t try to get him killed.”

According to WRAL, Walthour’s family are considering making posters to let their neighbors known that the boy is on the ROTC team.

Krest, who is white and married Walthour’s mother a couple of years ago, described the situation as “difficult.”

“It’s tough for me to explain what to do because it’s something I didn’t have to worry about,” he said.

Krest and the Raleigh Police Department have been contacted for additional comment.

The incident comes as protests have erupted in cities across America following the police shooting of Daunte Wright, a young Black man, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Demonstrators march to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights while protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright on April 14, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Megan Varner/Getty Images

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