Sunday marked 15 years since the Westside Tragedy - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Sunday marked 15 years since the Westside Tragedy

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Sunday, March 24th, marked the 15th anniversary of the Westside Tragedy.

On that day in 1998, 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden pulled the fire alarm at Westside Middle School and then began firing on students and teachers as they exited the building. 

In all four female students and one teacher were killed.  Ten others were injured. 

The victims include 32-year-old teacher Shannon Wright, and students 11-year-old Britthney Varner, 11-year-old Natalie Brooks, 12-year-old Paige Ann Herring, and 12-year-old Stephanie Johnson.

Johnson and Golden were caught a few minutes after the shooting trying to escape in a van.

Police say they planned to run away after the shooting. Both were found delinquent and served time in a juvenile detention facility until they reached 18 and then spent time in a federal facility until their 21st birthday.

In the years following the shooting, the victims' families filed suit against Golden and Johnson to keep them from profiting from the tragedy.

Johnson was released in 2005 and has had several run-ins with police since. He is currently serving a 12 year sentence in Arkansas for credit-card theft, and will then be sent to a federal prison when he completes the state sentence for federal drugs and weapons charges.

Golden was released in 2007 and remained out of the public eye until it was discovered he applied for a concealed weapons permit in late 2008 under his new name Drew Grant.

His permit was denied after the Sharp County Sheriff wrote a letter of appeal to the permit and Arkansas State Police say he lied on one of the questions. 

ASP say Grant didn't give an accurate account of his previous residence.  Since then, Grant has once again remained out of the public eye.

All of us at KAIT send our thoughts and prayers to all of the families involved. 

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