Katherine Newman is the principal investigator on this case study. We wish to thank Martin West, Ph.D. candidate in government and social policy at Harvard University, for his help in analyzing the theoretical perspectives on lethal school violence we relied on and Margot Minardi, Ph.D. candidate in history, for her assistance as well.



Bono is the largest of the three with a population just over 1,000 residents. Cash and Egypt count 280 and 112 residents, respectively.


We make occasional reference in this report to “girlfriends” or “going out,” but it should be noted that these relationships among very young teens are not equivalent to their later, high school variant. Particularly in a rural area like the Westside school district, prior to legal driving age, boys and girls tend not to spend unsupervised time together. Hence to be someone’s girlfriend is perhaps to spend time on the telephone or a few idle moments together in a school corridor. Birthday parties, generally supervised by adults, might be another time for this kind of socializing. But there is no evidence of anything more sustained than this and to “be dumped” under these circumstances is merely to see the end of a fairly sketchy relationship. Nonetheless, the social and psychological consequences of rocky interpersonal relations loom large in the minds of preteens and should not be minimized as a result. There was clearly an element of failure in this for Mitchell and possibly for Andrew Golden as well.


As is characteristic of rural communities with school districts that are large, the bus ride to school is extremely long, often upward of 1.5 hours for the children who lived farthest from the school.


Andrew was apprehended with the following weapons on his person: a universal .30 caliber carbine, a .38 special 2-shot, FIE 380, a .357 caliber revolver, a pocket knife, and over 100 shells. Mitchell was apprehended with the following weapons on his person: a 30.06 caliber rifle, two .38 caliber pistols, a 2-shot derringer, a .38 caliber semiautomatic, two pocket knives, and over 100 shells. At the scene where the shots were fired were also recovered a .44 magnum rifle and 22 spent casings.


The possibility of a third shooter was apparently investigated by the police and found to have no merit, but some of those who were in the line of fire still believe that a third shooter, situated on a hill near the elementary school nearby, was involved and eluded capture. Some community members also speculated that a third person, perhaps someone older, had helped the boys plan the event or had discussed it with them. This issue apparently was not part of the investigation.


So, too, of course, do millions of other American teenagers.


Andrew’s lawyer appealed the state supreme court’s ruling on the insanity argument to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Court declined to hear the case.


Jonesboro: Were the Media Fair? The Freedom Forum.


The civil suits against the gun manufacturer and against Golden’s grandfather have been dismissed. The court agreed that the parties could not have predicted the intervening proximate cause of the burglary and use of the guns by the boys. The suit against the Goldens was settled out of court and a settlement was paid by their homeowners’ insurance. The suit against Johnson’s parents is still outstanding, as is the suit against the two shooters.

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