Attorney finds Andrew Golden, one of Jonesboro school shooters

Associated Press Writer
Published Tuesday, April 15, 2008

JONESBORO Andrew Golden, who as a boy gunned down four classmates and a teacher in a school shooting 10 years ago, has been found and subpoenaed for a civil lawsuit.

Court documents filed in Craighead County court show Golden, now 21, received the subpoena April 8 to appear back in Jonesboro. He and Mitchell Johnson are named in the suit by Jonesboro attorney Bobby McDaniel, filed on behalf of the victims' relatives to stop the two from profiting from the slayings.

McDaniel already deposed Johnson, who put much of the blame for the shooting on Golden.

"I will get into extreme detail with Andrew Golden, how this happened, why it happened and who did what and let him address comments Mitchell Johnson made, especially Andrew Golden being the ringleader," McDaniel told The Associated Press. "The families want to know more than anything what happened and why."

In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and Golden, then 11, shot at students and teachers at Jonesboro Westside Middle School after Golden pulled a fire alarm. The boys killed English teacher Shannon Wright and students Natalie Brooks, 11; Paige Herring, 12; Stephanie Johnson, 12; and Britthney Varner, 11. They wounded 10 others.

State courts later found the two boys "delinquent," sending them to a juvenile prison until their 18th birthdays. But federal prosecutors swept in before their birthdays, sending them off to prison on undisclosed weapons charges until they turned 21.

After their birthdays, both men disappeared from view without parole supervision until Washington County sheriff's deputies arrested Johnson during a traffic stop New Year's Day 2007. A federal jury convicted Johnson in January of an obscure felony weapons charge.

Golden likely was released last May. McDaniel said authorities declined to tell him where the two were being held when in federal custody, which stopped him from sending subpoenas.

McDaniel declined to say where the Jonesboro-based process server found Golden. Court documents show Golden may be living under two different assumed names since his release. Golden's father now works as a rural postmaster in Ravenden, about 40 miles northwest of Jonesboro.

Dressed in camouflage, Golden and Johnson fired deer rifles capable of bringing down 280-pound animals at their classmates during the March 24, 1998, shooting. During a videotaped deposition last year, Johnson said he didn't "remember pulling the trigger after the first shot."

"I remember Andrew shot twice first. I shot once in the air, and I looked, and I seen Natalie (Brooks) get hit in the head," Johnson said, slightly rocking back and forth in a chair. "And I don't remember anything else after that besides Andrew coming back to get me, telling me we're on the run."

During his 2007 arrest, a police cruiser video camera caught Johnson telling officers he was a gang member at 13. Johnson later said Golden had "a beef" and that the two would have gone "to jail regardless" after stealing a van for the attack.

McDaniel, father to state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, dismissed Johnson's claims.

"Common sense would tell you it would be very unlikely an 11-year-old told a 13-year-old what to do," he said.

Johnson remains in jail after being arrested for using a stolen credit card and marijuana possession while waiting for sentencing on his federal conviction.

McDaniel sued gun maker Remington Arms after the shootings, though that case was dismissed in 2000. A judge also dismissed Golden's grandfather Doug Golden from the suit, which claimed he was negligent for leaving the key to unlock a cable around his firearms attached to the gun rack itself. Doug Golden died in January 2007.

McDaniel said an attorney representing Golden's mother asked that details about how Golden has spent time since being released from prison be kept secret until after the deposition. He said he would release a videotape of the deposition, scheduled for May 6, to reporters and the public.

"I spent about $1,000 chasing this kid down out of my own pocket because I need to find out what happened," McDaniel said.

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