throw her hands up and say she couldn’t do anything with him since the men continued to encourage him.
Andrew had friends but was probably not one of the most popular kids in school. He played trumpet in the school band. He was an average student and often made As and Bs but was for a time in elementary school in remedial reading and math classes. While Mitchell generally strove to do well in school, Andrew was described as more apathetic about his performance.
Andrew was also not considered a disciplinary problem at school. He was never suspended, and school officials can only remember one significant incident, in first grade, where he got into some trouble. He had brought a toy gun to school, which was taken away from him by a teacher who told him not to touch it. Andrew got another boy to retrieve the gun for him and then, during recess, filled it with mud or a sand and gravel mixture and fired it at a classmate, hitting her in the eye. For this transgression he was paddled. Arkansas is one of 26 states where corporal punishment is still legal, but when Andrew’s grandmother discovered her grandson had been paddled, she reportedly became very angry, yelled at the teacher in front of other students, and later convinced Andrew’s parents to place him on the “no paddle list.” Andrew’s greatest offense at school after this incident was reportedly talking out of turn. He could be mischievous and act the class clown, but this behavior was sometimes written off because teachers who had gone to school with his father had known him to be a harmless prankster, too. Andrew’s father came to parent-teacher conferences and, when Andrew was in elementary school, his grandmother would often go on school field trips. Most of his teachers described Andrew as a boy who always had a grin on his face and, if anything, would have gone unnoticed.
Neighborhood accounts of Andrew paint a much darker portrait, however. In his neighborhood, Andrew was known as something of a menace, a boy who cursed and yelled at other children, saying that if they came over to his yard he would shoot them with his BB gun. He rode around with a sheathed hunting knife strapped to his leg and reportedly killed cats in his backyard, including one that he starved to death in a barrel. Golden’s grandfather also had a reputation among some in the community as being irascible and petulant, and some wondered whether Andrew learned his menacing behavior from him. Andrew’s behavior around the neighborhood contributed to his reputation as “mean-spirited.” Two cousins who later became his shooting victims were ordered not to play with Andrew after they told their parents they saw him shoot and kill a cat. Despite the fact that the Westside community is small and reportedly closely knit, most teachers and administrators at the school were not aware of Andrew’s neighborhood reputation before the shooting.