Boy Killer Back in the News

Next month will mark the ten-year anniversary of the tragic Jonesboro shootings. On March 24, 1998, two boys, Mitchell Johnson (13 years old) and Andrew Golden (11 years old), pulled a fire alarm in their rural Arkansas school. Using four guns stolen from Golden €™s grandfather, the two then opened fire on their classmates and teachers as they filed out of the building. In just over four minutes, Johnson and Golden killed five and wounded 10 others.

At the subsequent trial, Johnson and Golden were each convicted of five counts of murder and sentenced to confinement until age 21. Upon their release, Johnson and Golden €™s records were adjudicated. With their convictions expunged, the two acquired the ability to legally purchase and possess firearms.

Soon thereafter, on New Year €™s Day 2007, Johnson, now 23, was pulled over and found to be in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun, a 20-gauge shotgun, and ¾ of an ounce of marijuana. In his company was Justin Trammell, age 22, who was convicted six years earlier of murdering his father with a crossbow in Benton County, Arkansas. The silver 9mm Lorein pistol in the car was a gift that Johnson had received to practice €œtarget shooting. € Because his earlier criminal record had been wiped out, authorities decided to charge Johnson with one felony count of possession of a firearm while either a user or addicted to a controlled substance.

U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe, who prosecuted the case, stated:  “We strongly believe Mitchell Johnson is a person who shouldn’t have a gun, especially when he’s using controlled substances.”  He added,  “We wanted the victims in the previous case to understand that we in law enforcement know who he is, we’re taking that into account, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep our community safe.”

Although we applaud the federal government for taking steps to prevent gun violence by aggressively prosecuting a gun-wielding ex-convict, we have some questions regarding Johnson €™s case €¦

Why did Arkansas not have a law on the books in 1998 to charge juveniles as adults in capital murder cases? That law has since been changed, but was there no other legal recourse available at that time to prohibit Johnson and Golden from purchasing and owning firearms in the future?

Why would any family member/friend of Johnson think it would be a good idea to give him a 9mm handgun as a Christmas present?

Why did it take over a year for someone to tip the police off about Johnson €™s involvement with drugs and guns?

We sincerely hope that this is the last time these two young men will make national headlines-for their sake, and for the sake of the surviving family members of the Jonesboro victims.

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