March 30, 1998 in Nation/World

Boy ‘Was Trouble,’ Shooting Victim Says

Associated Press
 

The 11-year-old girl allegedly targeted by schoolmate Mitchell Johnson in last week’s deadly school shooting says she was his girlfriend for three days, then dropped him because he was trouble.

Candace Porter said Mitchell often talked about beating up other boys, so she thought little of it when she heard he was saying “something big might happen,” The Jonesboro Sun reported Sunday.

Police say Mitchell and another boy opened fire on students and teachers as they filed out of Westside Middle School in response to a fire alarm the boys set off Tuesday. Four students and a teacher were killed. Candace was among 10 people hospitalized with injuries.

Police arrested Mitchell, 13, and Drew Golden, 11, and both are being held on charges of murder and battery.

Candace, a sixth-grade honor roll student, said she knew little about Mitchell when she agreed to be his girlfriend about a month ago and that she did not feel responsible for his actions.

“I thought he was nice, and then I found out he was trouble,” she said. “He was always talking about fighting other people. He’d say he was going to beat them up the next day. He called one of our music teachers a bad name that I can’t say.”

Brushing strands of long brown hair away from her freckled face, Candace talked calmly about the shootings.

“We were going outside, and we heard these shots,” she said. “We thought it may have been a test to see how we’d react to such a thing. After we heard the shots, we knew it wasn’t a test because there was people falling to the ground and stuff.”

A bullet struck her in her right side as she ran. She said she felt a stinging sensation, but she kept running until she reached the gym.

In surgery, doctors removed a bullet from Candace; it had penetrated little more than skin.

“It’s a miracle,” said her mother, Kim Porter. “The surgeon said the Lord grabbed her and turned her just the right way.”

Candace planned to return to school today.

“I’m never going outside again,” she said. “I’ll go out for recess, but not for a fire alarm.”

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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