ABC News goes looking for the Westside School shooters | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 18, 2016

ABC News goes looking for the Westside School shooters

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 12:33 PM

click to enlarge Johnson: At the time of his arrest in 2007 - WASHINGTON CO. SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Washington Co. Sheriff's Office
  • Johnson: At the time of his arrest in 2007
A report out today from ABC News details their ultimately unsuccessful attempts to track down the only two mass school shooters walking free: Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden.

On March 24, 1998, when Johnson was 13 and Golden 11, they pulled a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro and then gunned down their classmates with high powered rifles as children and teachers emerged from the school, killing four students and a teacher, and injuring 10 others. A recounting of the crime from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. 

Both were held in state custody until they were 18, then transferred to federal custody on weapons charges until they were 21, at which time they were released from custody with clean records.

Golden, as Arkansas Times detailed in a 2008 report after he unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a concealed carry handgun permit but was foiled by an old set of fingerprints still on file with the Arkansas State Police, had at that writing changed his named to Drew Douglas Grant. At the time, Grant/Golden listed an address in Evening Shade. 
Golden: at the time of his arrest in 1998
  • Golden: at the time of his arrest in 1998

Johnson, meanwhile, was arrested in 2007 after a traffic stop in which a search of his van found narcotics and a handgun, with Johnson charged with the rarely used simultaneous possession of a firearm and a controlled substance. While out on bond for that charge, he was arrested again in 2008 for unlawful use of a debit card. Johnson was eventually sentenced to 12 years in prison, but ABC News reports that he was released in July 2015, into the custody of the U.S. Probation Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Johnson's current whereabouts are unknown, which — as detailed in the ABC report — came as a surprise to Bobby McDaniel, the Jonesboro attorney who has sued on behalf of the victims' families, and who said that Johnson being in prison had stalled suit for years. He told ABC that now that he knows Johnson is out, he'll move to have a trial date set "so that we can obtain a moneyed judgement against both defendants for both compensatory and punitive damages." 

McDaniel's lawsuit was the source of a videotaped deposition of Mitchell Johnson from 2007 that Arkansas Times drew from to write a 2008 cover story about Johnson and his account of the shooting.  

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