Jonesboro massacre

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The Westside Middle School massacre was a school shooting that occurred on March 24, 1998 in Westside Middle School in unincorporated Craighead County, Arkansas, United States, near Jonesboro.[1][2] A total of five people, four female students and a teacher, were killed. Ten people, nine students and one teacher, were injured. The perpetrators of the shooting 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.

Contents

The massacre

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 female students and one teacher and wounded ten others. Golden and Johnson attempted to run back to the van and escape, but police captured them. The boys evidently planned to run away as they had food, sleeping bags, and survival gear in their van.

Imprisonment

The two youths were among the youngest people 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, both boys were both sentenced to confinement until they reached the age of 14, which is 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." The 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 and 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). [3]

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