October 8, 1997 in Nation/World

Six Accused Of Conspiracy In School Shootings That Left Two Students Dead

Associated Press

Six teens were arrested Tuesday on murder conspiracy charges, apparently related to the rampage last week in which a boy allegedly stabbed his mother to death and then opened fire on schoolmates, killing two and wounding seven.

Police Chief Bill Slade announced the arrests this afternoon, but declined to discuss what led lawmen to the teenagers. One of the six is a close friend of the suspect in last week’s slayings, but Slade wouldn’t confirm any connection.

The six, now being held in the Rankin County jail, are each charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They were to make an initial appearance later today in city court.

“I will not get into details of the investigation. We are still conducting an investigation. That’s all I can say,” Slade told reporters.

Already in custody is Luke Woodham, 16, who was arrested at the school last Wednesday morning. He is accused of walking into a crowded courtyard area and shooting his former girlfriend, then turning his rifle on bystanders. By the time he drove off, two students lay dead and seven were wounded.

A few hours earlier, police say, he had stabbed his mother to death at their home. He has pleaded innocent to three counts of murder and seven counts of aggravated assault.

Three of the six were taken into custody at Pearl High School.

Slade identified those arrested as Woodham’s friend Justin James Sledge, 16; Delbert Shaw, 18; Wesley Brownell, 17; Daniel Thompson, 16; and Donald Brooks, 17, all of Pearl; and Grant Boyett, 18, of Brandon, who attends Hinds Community College.

Three of the six were arrested at the school.

Last week, Sledge provided news organizations with what he claimed was a document allegedly written by Woodham, in which the youth claimed to have planned the killings. He claimed Woodham gave him the papers on the morning of the shooting.

Sledge had been suspended from school Monday after school officials said he was disruptive at a candlelight vigil held for the victims.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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