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Westside Middle School massacre
Location Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States
Date Tuesday, March 24, 1998
12:40 p.m.
Attack type School shooting, spree killing, mass murder
Weapon(s) Remington Model 742 (.30-06)
Universal M1 Carbine
Ruger rifle (.44 Magnum)
Death(s) 5
Injured 10
Perpetrator(s) Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden

The Westside Middle School massacre was an incident of a school shooting that occurred on March 24, 1998, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States. A total of 5 people were killed; four female students and a teacher, and 10 were injured; nine students and one teacher. The perpetrators were two students, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson, and 11-year-old Andrew Golden, who were shooting in an ambush style from the woods in camouflaged clothes.


The massacre

1. Natalie Brooks, age 11, student
2. Paige Ann Herring, age 12, student
3. Stephanie Johnson, age 12, student
4. Brittheny Rachel Varner, age 11, student
5. Shannon Wright, age 32, teacher

On the night before the shooting, Golden assisted Johnson in loading his mother's Dodge Caravan with camping supplies, snack foods, and seven weapons (two semi-automatic rifles, one bolt-action rifle and four handguns) which had been stolen from Golden's grandfather's house.

The following morning, the boys drove in the van to Westside Middle School. As they arrived, Golden pulled the fire alarm while Johnson took the weapons to the woods outside of the school. Golden then ran back to the woods where Johnson had taken the weapons. When children and teachers filed out of the school, the two boys opened fire. The boys killed four students and one teacher, and wounded ten others. Then Golden and Johnson attempted to run back to the van and escape, but were captured by police. They evidently planned to run away, as they had food, sleeping bags and survival gear in their van.


The two youths were among the youngest ever charged with murder in American history. The Jonesboro prosecutor later stated that were it not for their ages, he would have sought a death sentence for the pair. In August 1998 they were both sentenced to confinement until they reached the age of 18, the maximum sentence available under Arkansas law. They would have served until only age 18 had federal authorities not added additional confinement for weapons charges. (Both were confined until age 21.) Judge Ralph Wilson commented, "this is a case where the punishment will not fit the crime." This case led to a wide public outcry for tougher sentencing laws pertaining to juvenile offenders. Since then, the laws regarding young offenders have changed in Arkansas. Had Johnson and Golden committed their crimes several years later, they could have both been charged as adults and received life sentences.

Johnson was released from custody on August 11, 2005. Golden was released on May 25, 2007. Many members of the Jonesboro community have since expressed outrage, citing the facts that the killers will not be placed under any supervision and will be able to legally purchase firearms.


Later legal issues

Mitchell Johnson was arrested on January 1, 2007, while riding in a van with his roommate, Justin Trammell. In 1999, Trammell had been convicted in Benton County, Arkansas for killing his father with a crossbow. Trammell was the first youth in Arkansas convicted under the Extended Juvenile Adjudication Act. The law allows for combined juvenile and adult sentences upon conviction of those younger than 18. It was passed in response to the Jonesboro school shootings. Johnson was arrested on misdemeanor charges of drug possession and carrying a prohibited weapon (a loaded 9mm pistol). [1]

See also


  1. ^ Bradford, Michelle; and Kenneth Heard. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10 January 2007.

External links


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