March 28, 1998 in Nation/World

Powerful Rifles Used In School Rampage Boys Had More Than 500 Rounds Of Ammo

Jenny Price Associated Press
 

The two boys accused of killing five people in an ambush at their school had more than 500 rounds of ammunition and used “hunting-style” rifles designed to bring down 280-pound deer, police said Friday.

“You get hit with one of those and it’s going to do major damage,” said Larry Salinger, an associate professor of criminology and sociology at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

“The closer it is, the more damage there is going to be,” he said.

Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Drew Golden, 11, are being held on murder and battery charges. Four students and one teacher were killed and 10 people were wounded in Tuesday’s attack at Westside Middle School.

Between them, the two boys fired 22 shots, police said. Previously, police had said 27 shots were fired.

Officials said 10 weapons, including three rifles, were recovered: four from Golden, five from Johnson and one on the ground on a wooded hill near where the two had waited for classmates and teachers to leave the school.

Seven of the guns had been stolen from Golden’s grandfather and the other three belonged to Golden’s father.

The three rifles were described as “high-powered, hunting-style weapons” by State Police investigator Mike Davidson.

The sharpest shots can bring down deer from 440-yards away with the right rifle. Johnson and Golden were between 93 and 120 yards from their victims, Davidson said.

Police also recovered 325 bullets and shells from Golden and 199 from Johnson.

The boys were caught dressed in camouflage and running toward a van they had stolen from Johnson’s house. Inside, police found more ammunition, knives, a machete and Johnson’s hunter education card.

Johnson’s stepfather, Terry Woodard, is prohibited from owning weapons because of 1990 felony convictions for possessing drugs, methamphetamine, with the intent to distribute and the illegal transportation of a firearm.

Federal investigators said Friday they had no reason to believe that Woodard had guns in his home.

Woodard, 34, met Johnson’s mother, Gretchen, 42, while he was serving a 5-year prison sentence in a Minnesota prison, where she worked in the medical center. She no longer works; Woodard works in construction.

As the first of five funerals set for Friday and today began, lawyers for the boys said their families were upset and confused.

“This is a hard time for Pat and Dennis,” said Val Price, representing Golden’s parents.

“They express their deepest sympathy for all the families,” he said. “They too are asking why Andrew, their 11-year-old baby, could allegedly be involved.”

Bill Howard, who represents Johnson, told CNN: “I am not sure if all of this has sunken in on him at this point.”

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