For the second time in two weeks, another Cobb high school student has been arrested and charged with breaking a zero-tolerance weapons law after a search of his vehicle turned up a knife.
Cody Chitwood, 17, is a senior at Lassiter High School, and an avid fisherman.
He went fishing at his favorite spot, Mountain Park off Highway 92 and Mabry Road several days before and left his two fishing poles and tackle box in his car.
Little did he know that Lassiter administrators would order a K-9 search of the parking lot on Sept. 17 and a dog would hit on his car.
The dog apparently picked up a scent of black powder because Chitwood also had several firecrackers in his trunk, left over from a Fourth of July celebration. That was enough for police to order a thorough search of his 1998 BMW 328i.
They found four knives, all of them with blades of at least 2.5 inches, according to the arrest warrant. Three of them, including a fillet knife and a spring-assisted knife, were inside his tackle box in the trunk. A butterfly knife was found inside the pocket of the driver’s side door.
“I enjoy fishing. I go fishing probably once a week, sometimes twice a week,” said Chitwood, who has been suspended for 10 days by Lassiter Principal Chris Richie. “I just forgot that it was in there. I had my fishing poles in the car, too.”
He was charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, which is a felony in Georgia.
Chitwood said that no drugs or other contraband were found in his car.
School officials do not talk about individual disciplinary cases but zero-tolerance laws are strictly enforced.
The random K-9 searches of student parking lots are done at least once or twice a year at all Cobb high schools.
“The cop and the administrators, they basically told me, ‘You’re going to be in a lot of trouble,’” Chitwood said. “They were pretty nice, but the K-9 unit guy wasn’t really very nice.”
Chitwood said the campus officer and the administrators told him, “Instead of making a scene out of you, we’ll put a warrant out for you and you can turn yourself in at the jail.’”
He turned himself in Sept. 18 and was released later the same day after posting bond of $1,000 plus $320 in fees.
He said his parents, Don and Robin Chitwood of northeast Cobb, have hired an attorney, Joel Pugh of Marietta.
Chitwood said he has never had any previous run-ins with the law.
“It’s pretty ridiculous,” Chitwood said of the charges.
As for his parents, Chitwood said, “They think it’s absolutely ridiculous, too.”
Chitwood said he plans to enter the U.S. Air Force after graduation.
“I have an attorney and I’m hoping to get the felony dropped so I can still get in the Air Force,” he said.
On Sept. 5, another Cobb County high school student, Andrew Williams, 18, was arrested at Allatoona High in Acworth and charged with the same crime of “carrying a weapon in a school safety zone.” Williams’ car was searched after a fellow student accused him of smoking marijuana in his car. That triggered a search by an assistant principal, who found no marijuana but did find a pocket knife in the center console. Williams’ family has also hired an attorney to fight the charges.