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‘THAT MOMENT OF CHAOS’: 20 years ago, sad day at Westside

2 kids with guns opened fire, killed 5 people on schoolyard

By Jeannie Roberts

This article was published March 18, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

tristan-mcgowan-sits-on-the-grounds-of-westside-middle-school-in-late-february-mcgowan-was-a-seventh-grader-at-the-school-when-he-was-wounded-by-gunfi-re-20-years-ago-this-week-it-felt-like-a-hot-iron-got-stuck-beneath-my-arm-he-said-i-dropped-to-my-knees-and-started-yelling-of-the-five-killed-and-10-injured-he-was-the-only-boy

Tristan McGowan sits on the grounds of Westside Middle School in late February. McGowan was a seventh-grader at the school when he was wounded by gunfi re 20 years ago this week. “It felt like a hot iron got stuck beneath my arm,” he said. “I dropped to my knees and started yelling.” Of the five killed and 10 injured, he was the only boy.

Colby Brooks recalls the confusion that gripped students as the sound of gunfire echoed on the playground and the reassuring prayer with a teacher.

Scott Gauntt, superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District, walks through the memorial garden at Westside Middle School. The five beams sup...

Fresh flowers sit atop a sundial bearing the names of the victims in the memorial garden. Every sidewalk in the garden was replaced so no child would ...

A map showing the location of Westside Middle School

Former Craighead County prosecutor Mike Walden

A breeze rustles through the pecan-tree grove as Dale Haas leans back in a wrought-iron chair on his back patio. A rooster crows, strutting from around the metal barn.

Colby Brooks recalls the confusion that gripped students as the sound of gunfire echoed on the playground and the reassuring prayer with a teacher.

Scott Gauntt, superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District, walks through the memorial garden at Westside Middle School. The five beams sup...

Fresh flowers sit atop a sundial bearing the names of the victims in the memorial garden. Every sidewalk in the garden was replaced so no child would ...

A map showing the location of Westside Middle School

Former Craighead County prosecutor Mike Walden

This story is only available from the Arkansas Online archives. Stories can be purchased individually for $2.95. Click here to search for this story in the archives.

CORRECTION: The state has 238 school districts, according to the state Department of Education. The number of districts was incorrect in an article Sunday about the 20th anniversary of the shootings at Westside Middle School near Jonesboro.

Print Headline: 20 years ago, sad day at Westside

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 total comments

LR1955 says... March 18, 2018 at 9:57 a.m.

You don’t have to be a believer to agree that the 10 commandments are a good set of guide lines for basically being a good person.

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GeneralMac says... March 18, 2018 at 12:11 p.m.

Sherryl Murtha advocates a " massive tax on guns and bullets".

She compares it to the tobacco taxes.

A big difference is the right to bear arms is covered in the 2nd Amendment.

Which amendment is the right to smoke covered in ?...SARC

What next ? Taxes/fees to express your opinion via 1st Amendment ?

A poll tax to exercise your right to vote ?

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GeneralMac says... March 18, 2018 at 12:17 p.m.

Murtha also twists facts to promote an agenda by stating a ( anonymous) teacher was against arming teachers and stated......." I didn't sign up for this "

Exactly which schools are proposing making it mandatory that EVERY teacher carry a gun ?
Every proposal I have heard of it was an...........OPTION .

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mrcharles says... March 18, 2018 at 2:16 p.m.

And the first several silly statementss good for what? The balance are not the first pronoucement of those thoughts by talking primates. Seem rape/slavery was left off. And genocide against others was conveniently missing with future killing in the works by a MOST loving deity.

Strange the chosen peoole who wandered around the desert not knowing the commandments made it as long as they did without falling apart.
OF COURSE THE ANSWER IS THAT IT NEVER HAPPENED SO SAY THE TRUTH & EVIDENCE.

guess the children could have been killed by knifes or crossbows, but it was guns. How many children dead since then? Children dead by terrorist? Money spent on stopping terrorism vs stopping slaughter of our hope for the future? Stupid adults!

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... March 18, 2018 at 2:22 p.m.

Why is there no sales tax on a news paper, when one purchased? And there is a sales tax on a firearm?

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LR1955 says... March 18, 2018 at 5 p.m.

It's a people problem Mr Chuck, that's what I'm saying.

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Packman says... March 18, 2018 at 6:26 p.m.

Great article! Kudos to Jennie Roberts.
.
But let's be clear about the March 24th march. It's not about protecting kids. It's about attacking the NRA for votes.
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And Sheryl Martha needs a little education. Unique taxes already exist on the sales of guns and ammo collected by the federal government and used for fish and wildlife management. An idea was floated to use a portion of these monies, running into the tens of millions of dollars per year, for voluntary gun buy-back programs. While these programs will accomplish nothing other than a symbolic feel good move it will at least answer the demands to "do something".

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