The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 26, 1998 · Page 127
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March 26, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 127

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Thursday, March 26, 1998
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Page 127
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THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, MARCH 26. 1998 IOA 7T37ffmrm Boys could get short sentences $j9 52" nar .99 52" Flumh Mount $2Q tght QUIET QUALITY FANS AT FACTORY DIRECT PRICES! Golden said. Golden said the guns taken from his house were a 30.06 rifle and a .44-caliber Magnum with scopes and a World War II vintage .33-caliber carbine. Also stolen were a pair of small semiautomatic pistols, a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and a .22-caliber Magnum two-barrel Derringer that didn't work. Police say they recovered a 30.06 rifle and a .44-caliber rifle after tackling the boys as they ran away from the school toward the $f.99 .52" GULF COAST laWaWtairlai 52' Blade V DO 52' .99 52' 139 $99 man M Porch fmn Option m SSr ammo Mian MaroMMNca nnroriMAHCt Locmtl Iff I it EE van. But police would not link the guns to Doug Golden. Law-enforcement officials would not comment on most evidence in the case, leaving reporters to find most of their information from the youngest witnesses to the shooting. It was they, the students who went to school with the boys, who first provided a motive: that Mitchell and Andrew planned the shooting to get even with a girl who had broken up with Mitchell, and that Mitchell had bragged to them: "I got a lot of killing to do." detention that could prolong their sentence, prosecutors said. "We're looking at all other options," including federal charges against the two boys, said Davis. He would not say what those might include. Law-enforcement officers said the two boys, dressed head to toe in camouflage and hidden in a grove of trees, opened fire on students at the schoolyard of Westside Middle School about lunchtime Tuesday as the 11-, 12-and 13-year-olds filed outside the school on what they thought was a fire drill. Six remain in hospital In all, 27 shots bored into the bodies of the students and two teachers, one of whom the one killed sheltered students with her own body. Six of the wounded remained hospitalized Wednesday, five in stable condition and one in critical. On Wednesday, several pieces of bloody paper towel were tossed about by the winds and a cinder-block wall was pockmarked by bullet holes. A wreath of flowers lay outside the school, which was closed for the day, and the U.S. flag stood at half-staff. White ribbons put up to honor the victims fluttered in the breeze. On Tuesday after he heard about the shootings, Doug Golden drove from hospital to hospital fearing Andrew might be among the wounded. Instead, he was directed to the sheriffs office. "After we got out to the jail and found him, they brought the guns in and I recognized them," he said. Golden said the boy then admitted stealing three rifles, four handguns and several boxes of ammunition from his house. His grandson had his own weapons, Golden said, including a shotgun, two rifles, a crossbow and a bow, but didn't know the combination to the steel vault at his house where they were kept, so he and Mitchell tried breaking in. "We were told the other boy brought a torch and hammer and "LOST OUR LEASE SALEll" 4 rrcl PIT T" PolyWool BLAZERS Cn SPORTCOATS SCHOOL SHOOTING From lA time. I 'didn't like them much," she said, going back in her mind to a time when being cruel still meant (nean words hurled at her by unru ly boys on a school bus. Erica wasn't the only one who was shinned Wednesday. Thd U-year-old's grandfather, Doug Golden, tearfully told reporters that the boys had stolen some ot the guns from him. 'Thiey used my guns," he said, his lip Itrembling. His grandson Andrew, he said, was tutored by his father in the use of guns. As 'the cold-blooded nature and awful scope of this crime continued to baffle, prosecutors tried to find a way around a state law that, at least on its face, would require them to try the two boys under the lenient guidelines of juvenile court. The very thing that made the crime so shocking the ages of the twd suspects could result in sentences of just a few years in juvenile detention for Mitchell Johnson, 13, and his accomplice, Andrew, despite the ominous sounding charges of capital murder. ; Boy admits stealing guns The; grandfather said the boy admitted stealing seven guns from him and pulling the fire alarm that forced the victims into the line; of fire. "He: told me he fired some shots,"; said Golden, who talked to his grandson with police in jail after Tuesday's shooting. "Hd said he shot at a car on the parking lot but T don't remember anything after that,'" said Golden, the manager of a wildlifelarea. Juvenile Court Judge Ralph Wilson' ruled Wednesday afternoon that there was sufficient evidence to keep the boys in a jail cell until an April 29 hearing. At that time, said Brent Davis, the county prosecutor, the state plans to file charges of five counts of capital tnurder and counts of battery for each of the wounded against the boys. But under Arkansas law, anyone under 14 must be tried as a juvenile, and if convicted, can only be held behind bars until their 18th birthday, unless they commit a crime while in juvenile i Happy girls who loved 'Titanic JNUW1) Boy was mean-spirited Andrew, students said, was just mean-spirited. One parent, who knew him, would not let his children play with him, and called him "demented." At the detention hearing, 13-year-old Mitchell sobbed and held his hands together as if praying. Eleven-year-old Andrew seemed unfazed, and smiled at his parents at one point during the hearing. Terry Woodward, Mitchell's stepfather, said that contrary to earlier reports, Mitchell is not a cousin of Andrew, 09 NOW $ Save $80 Save '90 ITALIAN WOOL PLEATED SLACKS $00 Cracked Ice & Microfiber 3 for $129 SLIDER SLACKS Polyester 3 for $99 Save 50 "I never heard the kid's name until yesterday," Woodward said. He said the shooting was totally "out of context" for his stepson. Golden said the only male wounded in the shooting, Tristian McGowan, 13, shot twice in the arm, is Andrew's cousin. Andrew's grandfather said the family should have been asking him if anything was troubling him. "Nobody takes a kid's prob NOW Save '70 Sportcoat sizes 48-52 add 10 Slacks - Sizes 46 are slightly higher. 300 S. COUNTY ROAD PALM BEACH 655-3921 (A few doors south of Royal Palm Way) Open Daily & Saturday 9:30am -5:30pm lems senous because they are kids, but to a kid, they are serious," Golden said. some other tools to try to break into the gun vault and they couldn't do it," he said. So the two broke into his house and took the rifles from a gun rack and found pistols that were hidden "all over the house," The Associated Press contribut ed to this story. j0" 4r1y SECOND ANMfUML CLEAUmNClE laa SmSai "LmmM SAME Stephanie Johnson, 12 Brittany Varner, 11 Natalie Brooks, 12 Paige Ann Herring, 12 BIG SAVINGS ON SCRATCH & DENT UNITS: several occasions, she stayed the night at her neighbor Ashley Hendon's house, said Bonnie Save up to $1,000 on some models Hendon, Ashley s grandmother. "She was a nice, quiet little girl, not pushy and very polite," Hendon said. Here's a great one day opportunity to save big money on top-rated, high-efficiency central air conditioning units. Look over a tremendous selection of some of the top names in air conditioning.Names like Trane, Carrier and other major brands. Remember, these are brand new, fully warranted units with minor scratches and blemishes and will be installed by Sasso's factory-trained technicians. VICTIMS From lA t manager of Walpole Supermarket, located not far from Westside Middle School and the only grocery stdre in the neighborhood. Natalie Brooks, 11, often went to Walpole's with her father, Floyd, an employee at the Craighead Electric Co., Walpole said. Shei was described by friends an ebullient girl with a big smile and a penchant for jewelry and baggy jeans, a girl who liked the usual things that most pre-pubescents currently like: the Spice Girls, Hanson. And of course, the movie Titanic. "We went to see Titanic three or four times," said Charlynn El-rod, 12, who became friends with Natalie! two months ago after bumping into her at the local skating rink and mall. "She really liked the part when the ship was sinking, and they were in the back seat of the car." Like others who talked about the four girls, Hendon mentioned several times in a brief telephone SAVE $100' ON 1997 Q Softball and was a straight-A student, said Joette Cogburn, whose son was a good friend. On many nights, Cogburn recalled, Brittany would call the house, asking for Wesley, also 11, in a polite fashion, always happy and always laughing. Wesley, in fact, had had lunch with Brittany shortly before the shootings. "He saw the little girl get her head shot, and he's still pretty shook up," Cogburn said. "He's seen things that most soldiers never see." Stephanie Johnson, 12, moved into the school district two years ago and was described by classmates as a quiet girl who mostly kept to herself. But on interview that she still couldn't t,LtOC-VUI mlEaV9 ntiMsaviw Ijiffl believe what had happened, not to this town, not to those girls. Reality, it seemed, was having a hard time taking hold. "Three weeks ago, Natalie said, 'Let's go back and see Titanic again,'" Charlynn said. Check out specially tagged 1997 close-out models for solid savings. Even nicer, some units come with a 10-year warranty. VISIT OUR SPECIALITY BOOTHS ON FINANCING, DUCT CLEANING & MAINTENANCE While you're here, inquire about the new special financing packages offered by ARS, or adding a duct- "And I don't think we're ever going to back again." cleaning service with the installation of your new equipment, or register for our special maintenance programs to keep your air conditioner in top shape for years to come. Of course, Natalie thought the world of Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio. And she and Charlynn had talked about thorny issues with their respective boymenas. "Sh was a onnA nerson to talk REGISTER TO WIN A COLOR TV PLUS FREE SOFT DRINKS A HOT DOGS. So if you've even thought about installing a new central air conditioning system in your home, or changing out one that's past its prime, come out to ARSSasso Air Conditioning Clearance Sale on Saturday, March 28th between the hours of 9AM - 4PM. There's free soft drinks and hnt doe sn hrine the kids and have some fun while 10th Av N. 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Decorative Bronzes, lananese Netsuke and Ivorv KaTi- go through. "She was never snotty, and hf wore bright clothes." said Farrah Gibson, another friend of JUPITER BOCADELRAY W PALM BEACH Dale Oiihuly, Blue Seaform rasCirs riH ni mtXiG J Natalie s who turns 12 today and plans to dedicate a moment to Natalie at her birthday party on Friday. Paige Ann Herring, 12, was a tall girl who excelled at volleyball and basketball, said Krystal Oswald, 11, who seemed composed Wednesday despite watching the terror on Tuesday. Paige also grocery shopped at Walpole's with her father, Tony Herring, an employee at World Color Printing Co., Walpole said. Paige also took piano lessons and had a soft spot for homemade fried pies of chocolate, peach or apple made by a relative, To-mozine Herring. "She wanted me to give the recipe to her mother," Herring said. "But I don't think I did, and thatU always bother me." Brittany Varner, 11, played rines, Green and Lavender Jade CoDecoon, Sieub are! 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