Westside Shooter Arrested on Drug, Weapons Charges

Photo: Washington Co. Sheriff's Office
Photo: Washington Co. Sheriff's Office

January 9, 2007 - Posted at 6:39 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- One of the two boys who confessed to the 1998 shootings at Westside Middle School has been arrested and charged with carrying a prohibited weapon and possession of a controlled substance.

Mitchell Johnson was arrested on New Year's Day after a traffic stop in Fort Smith yielded the discovery of a small amount of marijuana in his pocket.  Police then searched Johnson's van and found a loaded 9-milimeter pistol.  Johnson was released from the Washington County jail on a $1,000 dollar bond.

Police say he had been traveling with his roommate, Justin Trammel, a boy who spent three years in prison for killing his father with a crossbow.  Ironically, Trammel was the first person sentenced under a new law in Arkansas that allowed the blending of adult and juvenile sentences.  The law was changed in response to the Jonesboro school shootings.

Mitch Wright lost his wife Shannon in the 1998 shootings when then 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson killed her and four students.  Tuesday's news came as more than unsettling.

"He's got a loaded handgun, marijuana.  It just doesn't seem like he's changed.  Supposedly he wanted to be a preacher and had changed his life around...it's just disbelief," said Wright, "Honestly, I'm mad.  Mad at the fact that he could walk out of there a year and a half ago.  We've been kept clueless about where he's at what he looks like and all this time we've been told to try to forgive and try to go on and then you turn around and see that he's been living with another teenage killer."

Sheriff Jack McCann says Johnson has been in Craighead County since his release on his 21st birthday.  McCann was not aware that Johnson was living in the Fayetteville area.

"As far as the shooting there is no history there.  their may or may not be some federal firearms charges attached to him and if that's the case, then carrying a weapon is not good," said McCann.

Johnson now faces misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance and carrying a weapon.

"What if he would have killed someone else?  What if he does kill someone else? I hope this time that he is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.  I guess that one bright side of this, at least we know what he looks like now, we know where he lives," said Wright.

"What he's got to realize is any violation, any time he gets arrested for anything, there's going to be a lot of publicity about it," said McCann, "Apparently he hasn't learned anything from the past years and what he needs to do is sit down and reevaluate his life and if he continues this path he's going nowhere but downhill quickly.  It's really unfortunate for his family, his mother is I'm sure very upset by all of this and to be honest, I'm just glad it was there instead of here."

Johnson is scheduled to appear in the Washington County District Court for an arraignment on January 26th.