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School-shooting rifles locked to wall cabinet

by Kenneth Heard | April 10, 1999 at 5:20 a.m.

— Rifles owned by Doug Golden of Bono that were used in the March 24, 1998, Westside Middle School shooting were secured to a wall gun cabinet by a cable and lock, in contrast to a report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Thursday.

Police said Golden's grandson, Andrew Golden, then 11, and Mitchell Johnson, then 13, broke into Golden's home and stole the weapons. The two boys later were convicted of killing four pupils and a teacher at the school. Ten other people were wounded in the shootings.

The Democrat-Gazette incorrectly reported that former Deputy Bryan Crites of the Craighead County sheriff's office said in a theft report he filed the day of the shootings that Golden's gun cabinet was unlocked. The report said the guns were taken from what Crites called a "gun rack," but didn't mention whether there was a lock.

When a reporter asked Crites on Tuesday if the cabinet had been unlocked, Crites said it was. He meant that the lock was opened during the theft, but the reporter misunderstood Crites to mean the cabinet was not locked when the boys arrived.

Doug Golden said Friday that the rifles in his 12-foot-long cabinet were secured by a three-sixteenths-inch aircraft cable. He said the cable was secured on one end of the cabinet and secured by a key lock on the other end. Golden secured the weapons because many of them were collectibles and were valuable, he said. Many of them would not fire, he added.

He wouldn't say how the boys opened the lock.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mike Walden of Jonesboro said investigators' photographs and videotapes of the cabinet show a cable dangling from the side of it.

Crites' report said Golden reported three handguns were stolen from under a mattress in a bedroom in the northwest corner of the house. Three rifles, including two that prosecutors said were used in the shootings, were taken from the cabinet.

Andrew and Mitchell were convicted on Aug. 11 in juvenile court of five counts of capital murder. They may be incarcerated by the state Youth Services Division until their 21st birthdays although no state facility currently exists that could hold them after they reach age 18.

Copyright © 2007, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.v


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