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Neighbor calls police on Black teenager practicing ROTC drills in neighborhood

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) - A Raleigh teenager is in shock after one of his neighbors called police on him as he practiced an ROTC routine with a replica rifle.

WRAL reports, Jathan Walthour recently joined the team at Sanderson High School in Raleigh. Tuesday night at about 9 p.m. he decided to practice outside in his neighborhood.

“I was walking throughout the road, I was marching down the street, as I saw the police arrive, I had my rifle on my shoulder,” Walthour described.

A neighbor called police on the 16-year-old Black student.

“There is a man outside with a gun walking up and down our cul-de-sac,” the 911 call said.

Neighbor calls police on Raleigh ROTC teen.
Neighbor calls police on Raleigh ROTC teen.(WRAL)

Walthour credits training from a community program called ‘Police Explorers’ on how to properly handle the situation.

“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.”

Shawn Krest, Jathan’s Father, says the situation is unfortunate. Krest married Jathan’s mother about two years ago. He tweeted about his son’s experience.

“It’s difficult, it’s something I’m still learning, as well,” Krest said. “It’s tough for me to explain what to do because it’s something I didn’t have to worry about.”

Jathan says he’ll continue to march on after being shaken by his encounter with police.

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

Police suggest Jathan practice his ROTC drills in his backyard, instead. The family is thinking of making fliers to let neighbors know Jathan is in ROTC and not a threat.

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