Before there was Columbine there was Jonesboro. To be honest with you I’m not too familiar with the incident because I wasn’t dragged kicking and screaming into the school shooting scene until 1999. So let’s take a history lesson together, shall we? From the original CNN article…
March 24, 1998
Web posted at: 11:06 p.m. EST (0406 GMT)
JONESBORO, Arkansas (CNN) — Four middle school girls and a teacher were killed and 11 people were wounded Tuesday when two heavily armed boys in full camouflage gear opened fire on their classmates and teachers during a false fire alarm.
The Craighead County coroner’s office identified the dead students as Natalie Brooks, Paige Ann Herring, and Stephanie Johnson, all 12, and Brittheny R. Varner, 11. Tuesday night, teacher Shannon Wright, 32, died after surgery for wounds to her chest and abdomen, Coroner Toby Emerson said.
Police did not offer a motive, but a classmate said one of the suspects had recently broken up with his girlfriend.
Authorities said as many as 27 shots were fired, and as their classmates fell bleeding, the other children ran back inside the school, screaming and crying.
“We had children lying everywhere,” said paramedic Charles Jones. “They had all been shot.”
Sheriff Dale Haas, who wept when he reported the shootings to the media, said men working on a new school building spotted the suspects and told police, who captured them as they fled through a wooded area nearby.
The boys had handguns and rifles, including a high-powered 30.06 hunting rifle. A white van was found about a half-mile from the school with guns and ammunition in it. It wasn’t immediately clear if the vehicle was related to the shootings. The boys were running in the direction of the van when they were caught, investigators said.
What about the shooters you say? From Wikipedia…
Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, both came from divorced families. Mitchell’s mother had remarried an inmate at the prison where she was a guard. He reportedly had a good relationship with his stepfather and siblings. Adults who knew him describe him as quiet and respectful. He faithfully attended church and sang in choir. However, his fellow students told a different story about a darker side. They said he was a braggart and a bully. He talked of wanting to belong to gangs and smoke marijuana. He also spoke of “having a lot of killing to do” and a bitter grudge against Shannon Wright. It was also commented that both Andrew and Mitchell also had an unhealthy fascination with violent rap songs and television shows. The news media reported that both youths wept in custody and showed remorse. They both asked for a Bible and a minister. The guards at the Jonesboro jail, however, told reporters that the boys slept and ate well and for the most part seemed unaware of the severity of their crime. They said they only acted that way when their parents were present. Fellow inmates at the facility where the two youths were later confined reported that the two “bragged” about their offenses, particularly about the murder of Shannon Wright. An “American Justice” show on the case also brought to light the fact that shortly before the shootings, Mitchell had been charged with molesting a little girl during a visit with his father. Even had he avoided the schoolyard massacre, he was facing trial for this supposed offense.
Now Mitchell Johnson is about to be released…
Because of a since-closed loophole in Arkansas’ juvenile justice system, the state had no way to hold Johnson and Golden beyond their 18th birthdays. Federal prosecutors used weapons laws to keep the boys locked up until age 21.
For all those “child advocates” who think that he needed “help” instead of jail…
Mitchell Wright, whose wife, Shannon, was killed in the attack, said he has tried to explain Johnson’s release to his son, who was 2 when his mother died.
“He’s told me, ‘I don’t think it’s right he gets to go home to his momma, and I only get to see my momma on videos,“
It’s not right at all.