Westside killer seeks handgun permit 

State Police response: 'no.'

click to enlarge A YOUNG GOLDEN: At the time of his arrest.
  • A YOUNG GOLDEN: At the time of his arrest.

An application for a concealed handgun permit filed by one of the shooters in 1998's Westside Middle School Massacre in Jonesboro has been denied by the Arkansas State Police, citing the objections of the Sharp County sheriff and at least one answer on the application that appears to be false.

The application was filed on Oct. 7 by Drew Douglas Grant, who lists an address in Evening Shade. State Police spokesman Bill Sadler confirmed that Drew Douglas Grant and Andrew Golden are one and the same. On March 24, 1998, Golden and his accomplice, Mitchell Johnson, pulled the fire alarm at Westside Middle School near Jonesboro, then opened fire with high-powered rifles when teachers and students emerged from the building. Four girls and a teacher were killed. At the time of the shooting, Golden was 11 years old and Johnson was 13. Charged as juveniles in state court and later transferred to federal custody for the crime of bringing a firearm to school, each was released from jail on his 21st birthday with a clean record. 

Until now, Golden's new identity as Drew Douglas Grant has officially been a secret, though anonymous Internet postings had linked him to that name. On Nov. 11,  Craighead Circuit Judge David Burnett issued a gag order prohibiting attorneys in a civil case filed against Golden by the families of the Westside victims from revealing Golden's new name, his place of employment, where he lives or where he attends school. Burnett also ordered that Golden's deposition in the lawsuit not be released to the public until after the lawsuit is settled.

Since being released from jail, Golden has faded into anonymity, legally changing his name and apparently avoiding any further run-ins with the law. Johnson, meanwhile, has been arrested, convicted and sentenced to four years in federal prison on the rarely-used charge of possessing a gun while being a user of or addicted to a controlled substance. In October, Johnson was sentenced to an additional 12 years on state theft charges for using a customer's credit card stolen from the convenience store where he worked.

In the application filed with the State Police, Grant presents paperwork to show that he has completed seven hours of firearms training required to qualify him for a permit to carry a semi-automatic handgun. In a section asking Grant to list all residences where he has lived in the past two years, Grant says that he lived in Ravenden from April 2002 to May 2006, then in Evening Shade from May 2006 to June 2008. In fact, Golden was held on state charges at the Youth Services Center in Alexander until his 18th birthday in 2004, then transferred to an undisclosed federal prison. He was released on May 25, 2007 — his 21st birthday. The only federal prison in Arkansas is in Forrest City.

In the letter denying Grant's request for a permit obtained by the Arkansas Times via a Freedom of Information Act request, Arkansas State Police Lt. Cora Gentry informs Grant that a letter of objection to the permit has been received from Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver. Gentry cites the Arkansas law concerning the issuance of concealed-carry licenses, which states in part that, “The director may deny a license if the sheriff or chief of police, if applicable, of the applicant's place of residence submits an affidavit that the applicant has been or is reasonably likely to be a danger to himself or herself or others or to the community at large as the result of the applicant's mental or psychological state, as demonstrated by past patterns of behavior, or participation in an incident involving unlawful violence or threats of unlawful violence.”

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