By Aaron Thomas, WRAL reporter
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
Jathan Walthour recently joined the ROTC team at Sanderson High School in Raleigh. At about 9 p.m. Tuesday, 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 caller said.
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. “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, the teen’s stepfather, called the situation unfortunate. 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.”
Walthour said 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 suggested he practice his ROTC drills in his backyard instead. The family is thinking of making fliers to let neighbors know Walthour is in ROTC and not a threat.