Andrew Golden

Child killer dies in fiery car crash years after murdering four little girls, teacher in gruesome school massacre

A Missouri man who was in middle school when he took part in killing four students and a teacher in 1998, apparently died in a fiery weekend car accident in northeastern Arkansas, according to police.

Region 8 News reports that 33-year-old Drew Grant, previously known as Andrew Golden, was driving a 2017 Honda CRV on Highway 167 near Cave City on Saturday when the driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe crashed into him head-on.

According to police, 59-year-old Daniel Petty was driving the Tahoe when he crossed both a turn lane and the northbound lanes before crashing into Golden’s car. Both Golden and Petty died.

Three other people were injured during the crash, including children, and were subsequently taken to area hospitals.

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In March 1998, Grant, 11 at the time, and Mitchell Johnson, then 13, opened fire at Westside Middle School in Craighead County, Arkansas. Using several firearms, the boys shot and killed four students and one teacher. Eleven other students were injured during the ordeal.

Both boys were considered middle school bullies, according to court documents. Johnson wanted to be a part of the “Bloods” gang while telling other children he had “a lot of killing to do.”

“What I’m hearing is this guy was a gang wannabe,” Rev. Jonny Watkins said in 1998, according to The New York Times. ”He swore he was with the Bloods, wore red all the time and talked about killing animals. He was always threatening and getting into fights.”

Backpacks and cleaning supplies lie in the hallway of Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., Wed., March 25, 1998. The view is from a door used by students to leave the building during a false fire alarm Tuesday. Two boys hidden in a wooded area opened fire on the students leaving the school, killing four girls and one teacher and injuring 11 others. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Grant, who was mostly raised by his grandparents, was known to constantly start fistfights with other students. Both boys made threats of killing others. Several students later commented that at the time, they didn’t take the threats seriously.

Johnson reportedly said he planned to kill any girl that broke up with him or anyone he considered “a snob.”

The victims were all female and included:

  • Paige Herring, 12
  • Stephanie Johnson, 12
  • Natalie Brooks, 11
  • Brittney Varner, 11
  • Stephanie Wright (teacher), 33

Investigators said Grant stole weapons from his grandfather while Johnson stole his family’s van, which was to be used as a getaway van after they carried out their violent plan.

Authorities later found numerous items inside the van that led them to believe the boys planned to escape after the shootings. Investigators found, in part, a 10-inch special purpose knife, a crossbow, ammunition, a machete, knives, and camping gear and supplies.

A bullet hole in the exterior wall of the gymnasium at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark. on Wed., March 25, 1998 is marked with measurements taken by officials. The bullet went completely through the wall. Four girls and one teacher were killed and 11 others were wounded when two boys opened fire during a false fire alarm on Tues., March 24. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

On the day of the shootings, Grant was in class when he asked to go to the restroom. He then walked out of the classroom and pulled a fire alarm. Johnson, who apparently didn’t show up to class that morning, was crouched down in the woods behind the school, waiting in hiding.

After pulling the fire alarm, Grant walked outside and joined Johnson in the woods. The pair waited until they saw the students file out of the school before firing the first shot.

Brittney Varner was the first student hit. A female student standing beside her said the girl grabbed onto her before falling down. A succession of gunshots followed and within the span of around 15 seconds, the boys managed to hit numerous students.

As the shots rang louder, Shannon Wright jumped in front of student Emma Pittman and took a fatal shot to her chest while shielding the girl.

”I saw Mrs. Wright. She took Emma’s arm and pulled her behind her, and that’s when she got shot. Everybody started screaming and I saw her fall on the ground,” student Amber Vanoven said at the time.

Afterward, the boys fled in the stolen van, but they didn’t get far before authorities caught them. They were both charged and convicted of murder and battery, and subsequently jailed until they turned 21.

Johnson was released in 2005, followed by Grant in 2007.

In 2008, Grant applied for a firearm in Arkansas using his legally-changed name. When his fingerprints used during a background check matched him to his criminal past, the application was ultimately was denied. He also lied reportedly about his address on the application, according to Arkansas State Police.

Meanwhile, Johnson, according to ABC News, was arrested in 2007 for possession of a loaded weapon and marijuana. In 2008, while out on bond, he was arrested again for marijuana and possession of a stolen debit card. He was subsequently convicted and spent the next 12 years in prison.

In 2015, Johnson was released into and placed in the custody of the U.S. Probation Office for the Southern District of Texas. Along with probation, he was required to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program.

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