LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A man who as a child joined a classmate in gunning down four students and a teacher in a 1998 Jonesboro middle school shooting applied for a concealed-carry permit under another name, but regulators denied his request, a state police spokesman said Wednesday.
Andrew Golden, 22, applied for the permit under the name of Drew Grant, listing a home address in Evening Shade — only 55 miles from where he and Mitchell Johnson lured students into gunfire during a fake fire drill, police spokesman Bill Sadler said.
A concealed-carry permit application requires fingerprint samples and a detailed personal history. The applications are vetted by state police personnel.
Fingerprints provided with the application filed by Grant matched those given by Golden at age 11 in the aftermath of a shooting that stunned Arkansas and the United States, Sadler said.
"Early on in the application process, some red flags went up with the identity of the applicant who had listed his name as Drew Grant," Sadler told The Associated Press. "After some further checking, there was a determination made that he was one and the same as Andrew Golden."
Regulators sent Golden a two-page letter within the last week noting several reasons why his application was rejected, Sadler said. One was "dealing with a 1998 incident," while the other involved previous addresses where Grant said he lived.
"At least two previous addresses that were known to the department ... were not listed," Sadler said. A copy of the rejection letter obtained by the AP shows troopers found addresses on file for Golden in Cape Girardeau, Mo., as well as Batesville. On his application, Golden did not list two other addresses he's resided in recent years: the state's Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility — where Golden was held until his 18th birthday — and the federal prison where he served time until he turned 21.
Golden's application also notes that he's taken five firearm safety classes that lasted seven hours. He notes he's been deemed "successfully and safely qualified" to use a semiautomatic pistol.
Golden also reportedly gave an address after a recent motorcycle crash that did not match up with any on his application, Sadler said.
Sadler said Golden has 10 days to appeal the rejection after he receives the denial letter, sent by certified mail. Sadler said police investigators were examining whether criminal charges were warranted over the accuracy of the rejected application.
A telephone number for Golden in Evening Shade could not be found Wednesday night. Danny Glover, a Wynne lawyer representing Golden in a civil suit, declined to comment.
The electronic edition of The Arkansas Times, a Little Rock weekly newspaper, first reported the denial Wednesday night.
In 1998, Golden pulled a fire alarm at the middle School, drawing students and teachers into a hail of gunfire. Golden and Johnson killed English teacher Shannon Wright and students Natalie Brooks, 11; Paige Herring, 12; Stephanie Johnson, 12; and Britthney Varner, 11. They wounded 10 others.
Since his release from the juvenile court penalty, Johnson has been convicted and sentenced on new state and federal charges. But Golden had kept himself out of the notice of law enforcement.
Both Golden and Johnson are named in a civil suit filed on behalf of the victims' relatives to stop the two from profiting from the slayings. During a hearing last month over a deposition Golden is to give in the civil suit, his mother Pat Golden acknowledged he took a new name after his release from prison. She also said he now lives alone and attends a school, but did not offer any other personal details.
"Andrew Golden ceased to exist when he changed his name," Pat Golden said.
Still, emotion over the shooting runs high. Around the time of Golden's release from federal prison, Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann warned he could not guarantee Golden's safety if he returned to Jonesboro, the county seat. During hearings over the deposition, Craighead County Circuit Judge David Burnett barred lawyers from releasing Golden's new name or his home address.
During his deposition for the civil suit, Johnson put blame for the shooting on Golden, saying his younger classmate wanted to "scare some people and prove a point." The high-powered rifles used in the shooting came from the home of Golden's grandfather. At trial, Johnson admitted his guilt while Golden gazed straight ahead with wide-open eyes, looking down occasionally during emotional testimony.
A judge found him guilty after his lawyer acknowledged his crimes, but Golden himself said nothing, and has not spoken publicly since then.